A WalletHub study has researched and ranked which of the 50 United States are happiest. This study was survey-based and drew upon which environmental factors are linked to a person’s overall well-being and satisfaction with life.
To determine where Americans exhibit the best combination of these factors, they examined the 50 states across 31 key metrics, ranging from depression rate to sports participation rate to income growth. These metrics were simplified into three key dimensions: 1) Emotional & Physical Well-Being, 2) Work Environment and 3) Community & Environment.
All that said, here are the 2019 results for the fifty states, ranked in order from most happy to least happy.
Hawaii residents are most likely to say they love their lives, and this probably comes as a surprise to no one. Beautiful beaches and sunsets. Quiet, blissful lifestyle. Awe-inspiring waterfalls. What is not to love? Hawaii ranked the highest in the nationwide survey in emotional and physical health. It goes without saying that there is a reason millions of people a year choose Hawaii as a vacation destination.
One major factor contributing to Utah’s happiness level is its rank as number one for “fewest work hours”—in fact, it leads the nation in work environment. Utah also boasts the lowest divorce rate in the country.
This state is ranked high in all three of the main categories in this study. Minnesota has a strong reputation as a state full of very kind people—yes, it seems “Minnesota nice” is a real thing. It also has one of the lowest divorce rates and is considered a very safe state.
4. North Dakota
This Minnesota neighbor is ranked as one of the top states in both work environment and physical health and performs very well in emotional health as well. In terms of work environment morale, it's the number one state for income growth—a sure-fire way to make its citizens happier.
A state well-known for its young, hip lifestyle, it is no surprise that physical well-being is its greatest strength. Californians are also emotionally healthy; their state has the fifth-lowest rate of adult depression.
This one is a little bit of a surprise. Idaho is one of those states that is accepted as having nothing extra spectacular going for it. However, it ranked very high in work environment (#2) and community and environment (#1). Excelling in these two categories helps to make up for its middle-ranking in emotional and physical well-being (#24).
Maryland is known for having nice scenery, as long as you do not mind the occasional snowpocalypse or brush with a hurricane and seemingly endless traffic. It finished 5th in emotional and physical well-being and a promising 14th in community and environment, but earned a poor 38th in work environment. It, unfortunately, has one of the highest long-term unemployment rates. But another plus for Maryland is its rank as having the fourth lowest suicide rate.
Iowa ranked 16th in emotional and physical well-being and 10th in both work environment and community & environment. It did very well in “highest adequate sleep rate” and “highest volunteer rate” (both at 4th place) and “lowest long-term unemployment rate” (3rd).
9. South Dakota
South Dakotans are well-rested, which makes all the difference in a person’s happiness level; the state currently takes the prize for number one in adequate amounts of sleep. It also ranks 13th in work environment and an admirable 8th in community and environment.
Rounding out the top ten happiest states, Nebraska does not rank particularly high in work environment (17th) or community and environment (28th), but it does have a great rating for emotional and physical health, coming in at 10th in this category. It would appear that cornfields are good for the body and soul.
The land of cheese comes in at an admirable 11th place in happiness. Wisconsin does quite well in workplace environment (11th place) and it is also a safe state, coming in at 12th for safety rank among other states.
Emotional & physical well-being ranks number 9 in this state, but its average is seriously hurt by work environment scores, which ranked at number 40. But a major positive is that the state has the fifth-lowest suicide rate in the country.
13. New Jersey
New Jersey’s overall ranking was dragged down by work and environment (44th), and community and environment (38th). Some factors to work environment not performing well were: number of work hours, commute time, cost-of-living-adjusted income, underemployment rate, job security and income-growth rate. Despite those low rankings, New Jersey has the second-lowest rate of depression and lowest suicide rate in the country, which is amazing. And New Jersey fared very well overall because the emotional and physical well-being category rounded in exceptionally high at number 3 overall.
14. New York
American media leads us to believe that the people of New York are miserable, but in reality, they seem to be doing pretty well. Interestingly enough, it has the lowest rate of adult depression in the country. To reflect this statistic, emotional and physical well-being ranks at number 5 out of all states.
This state ranked 15th on the list overall according to the report. Virginia finished 15th in emotional and physical well-being, a middle-of-the-road 25th in work environment, and a so-so 27th in community and environment.
Massachusetts ranked fourth in the number of hours worked, third in its suicide rate, ninth in safety, 10th in income growth, 12th in separation and divorce, 22nd in adequate sleep rate and 27th in volunteer rate. The state was ranked 13th in its overall emotional well-being, 14th in its work environment, and 42nd in community and environment.
The state was ranked 17th for average happiness levels and made it into the top 10 for community and environment and workplace environment measures. Pulling the average score down, however, was the metric for emotional and physical well-being, where Washington ranked 29 — lower than average. Washington also ranked 10th in terms of safety, 11th for number of work hours and 16th for income growth.
Colorado was 19th in the overall emotional and physical well-being, 46th in the community and 3rd in work environment ranking. Colorado did well in the “adequate average sleep” ranking (2nd) and participation in sports (1st). Colorado also ranked fourth in the highest income growth. Colorado didn't rank among the top five in suicide rates in this study, but the state has an alarmingly high rate of people who take their own lives, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Colorado also has a high number of people who die from drug overdoses and alcohol.