Well-Being Mental Health

Utah tops list of happiest states

A new study ranks the states.
The Utah State Capitol is illuminated against the setting sun in Salt Lake City, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Story at a glance

  • WalletHub ranked states based on happiness.

  • Taking the top spot, Utah scored 69.79 points out of a possible 100.

  • Behind Utah were Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut and California.

Utah ranked first among states with the highest rates of happiness, in a new WalletHub study released Tuesday.

Out of a total possible score of 100 points, Utah scored 69.79 points, followed by Hawaii at 66.42, Maryland at 64.62, Minnesota at 62.82, New Jersey at 61.98, Connecticut at 60.68, and California at 60.53. The rest fell short of 60 points but followed close behind at a relatively steady rate.

The least happy state was West Virginia, which had a score of 35.08, followed by Louisiana in 49th place with 35.86 points, Tennessee in 48th with 38.3 points, Arkansas in 47th with 39.72 points, Kentucky in 46th with 40.58 points, Alabama in 45th with 40.82 points, Mississippi in 44th with 41.42 points, and Alaska in 43rd with 42.2 points.

The study draws upon a wide range of data and divided 30 relevant metrics into three categories: emotional and physical wellbeing; work environment; and community and environment. The first category contains half of the 30 metrics, while the latter two categories each contain 15 of the metrics.

Within each category, metrics are weighted differently. For example, under the first category of “emotional and physical wellbeing,” the share of adult depression holds four times the full weight of a baseline metric. The share of adults who report feeling active and productive holds the full weight. Life expectancy holds double the full weight, and the suicide rate holds triple the full weight.

Metrics included under the “work environment” category include the number of work hours, the commute time, the share of adults who report having financial anxiety, the current unemployment rate and the current underemployment rate. The category also includes metrics like the share of households earning annual incomes above $75,000, and the share of work-related stressed tweets.

The final category of “community and environment” includes metrics like volunteer rate, the ideal weather, average leisure time each day, safety, and separation/divorce rate. 

The survey also ranked the states per category. Utah, which ranked first overall, ranked 16th in “emotional and physical wellbeing,” but first in the other two categories. In second place overall, Hawaii ranked first in “emotional and physical wellbeing” but 25th in “work environment” and 30th in “community and environment.”

West Virginia, which came in last place overall, also placed 50th in “emotional and physical wellbeing” and “work environment.” The state came in 33rd place for “community and environment.”

While some states had similar rankings in each of the three categories, many of the most-populated states showed a higher ranking for the first category but lower rankings for the latter two.

Florida, ranked 8th overall, placed 2nd for the first category, 21st for the second, and 44th for the third category. New Jersey placed 3rd for the first category, 14th for the second category, and 29th for the third category. Massachusetts, ranked 12th overall, placed 4th in the first category, 16th in the second category, and 48th in the third category.

California placed 5th in the first category, 34th in the second category, and 10th in the third category. Connecticut placed 6th in the first category, 32nd in the second category, and 8th in the third. New York, ranked 16th overall, placed 7th in the first category, and 39th in both of the other categories.