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The States With the Best and Worst Levels of Well-Being

Beachgoers in Hawaii, a state that has consistently performed well on Gallup's "well-being" index.

Beachgoers in Hawaii, a state that has consistently performed well on Gallup's "well-being" index. shutterstock

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Gallup releases its latest index on the topic, based on over 100,000 survey responses.

Americans in parts of the West were feeling good last year.

That’s one possible takeaway from the latest edition of an index ranking states based on the “well-being” of their residents. Western states dominated the top six spots on the list. Hawaii took the top spot, followed by Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Utah and Colorado.

Gallup published the index results on Wednesday. They're based on a 2018 survey. The pollster has tracked wellbeing since 2008. Since then, Hawaii has scored best seven times.

Vermont, Delaware and South Dakota and North Dakota rounded out this year’s top 10.

The index incorporates elements of wellbeing that have to do with career satisfaction, social relationships, financial security, community, and physical health.

States that performed worst in the index are concentrated in the South and industrial Midwest. West Virginia posted the worst well-being score for the 10th year in a row. Other states with low rankings included Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The findings are from surveys with 115,929 adults, conducted by mail and online last year. The index ranks states based on a 100 point scale, where 100 is the best score. The overall score for the U.S. declined for the second consecutive year in 2018 to 61.2 from 61.5 in 2017.

Discussing this decline in an analysis of the index results Gallup says: “2018 saw a continuation of some of the same narratives that were used to describe 2017's drop, including erosion in social and career wellbeing. Not all elements, however, suffered from these declines.

"Physical wellbeing improved in 2018, while financial and community wellbeing were unchanged,” the analysis adds.

It also notes: “Improving and sustaining high wellbeing is vital to any population's overall health and to its economy.”

The margin of sampling error for the index is about +/- 0.8 points for most states. But it ranges from about +/- 0.5 points for large population states to about ±1.9 points for the smallest-population states. More about the index can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

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