The happiest state of the union is Louisiana; at the bottom of the list of happiest states is New York; California ranks 46th. What does it all mean and how reliable is the data?
Top 5 Happiest States in America (and the bottom 5)
The top five happiest states in America are Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida, Tennessee and Arizona. At the bottom of the list are Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. Live Science explains that the data collected in their research spanned 2005 to 2008 and included personal evaluations by about 1.3 million Americans. This information was then incorporated with more objective data that included various influences on the quality of life.
Do the Happiest States Stack Up to Reality?
CNBC reports on the states with the highest unemployment rates. At number one is Michigan (14.7%), followed by Rhode Island (12.7%), South Carolina which is tied with California and Nevada (12.3%), the District of Columbia (11.8%) and Florida (11.5%). Who would have thought that Florida with the fifth highest unemployment rate would be the third happiest state?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the top five states with lowest unemployment are North Dakota (4.1%), Nebraska (4.5%), South Dakota (5.0%), Kansas and Utah (6.3%) and Vermont (6.4%). Somewhat surprisingly, none of them made it into the top five happiest states in America, 2009.
Well Being – Highest and Lowest
Another aspect of the surveys centered on well-being. This was defined as an overall evaluation of one’s life, self-reported emotional and physical health, healthy and unhealthy behavior patterns and also job satisfaction. The top five states are Utah, Hawaii, Wyoming, Colorado and Minnesota. At the bottom of the list are Arkansas, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Ready to Pick the Happiest States to Live in? Proceed with Caution!
Perhaps the biggest caveat in this list is also evidenced by the results: Louisiana as the happiest state. The researchers compiling the data warn that data collection was completed prior to Hurricane Katrina ravaging the Gulf coast in the latter part of 2005. This would also place data collection prior to skyrocketing unemployment (which might explain Florida’s position on the list) and the Obama Administration coming to power.
While it is somewhat surprising to read in 2009 about the supposedly happiest states in America — with research conducted between 2005 and 2008 — it would be downright imprudent to base any relocation decisions on the data.