Americans in Hawaii continued to set the national standard in wellbeing in the first half of 2011, followed closely by North Dakota. West Virginia and Kentucky maintained their status as the states with the lowest wellbeing. Nebraska, which showed the biggest gains in wellbeing rank from 2009 (25th) to 2010 (10th), continued to move up, landing in the top five.
These state-level data, from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, are meant to provide a preliminary reading on the wellbeing of U.S. states in anticipation of the complete 2011 rankings, to be released early next year.
The Well-Being Index score for the nation and for each state is an average of six sub-indexes, which individually examine life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. The January through June 2011 aggregate includes more than 177,000 interviews conducted among national adults, aged 18 and older.
The midyear Well-Being Index score for the country so far in 2011 is 66.4, a slight decline from 66.8 for all of 2010. The Well-Being Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where a score of 100 would represent ideal wellbeing. Well-Being Index scores among states vary by a range of 8.7 points
The Southern States are continuing to struggle with low well being, whereas the Western States are thriving.
More states in the South than anywhere else in the country have wellbeing scores in the lower range, as has been true in the past. Eight of the bottom 11 states in wellbeing (Missouri is classified as a Midwestern state) are Southern states.
Many Western states, in contrast, thrive in wellbeing, with four out of the top seven — Hawaii, Alaska, Colorado, and Utah — located in that region of the country. Five Midwestern states — North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas, and Iowa — are also in the top 12, as are three Eastern states: New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maryland.