The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks U.S. wellbeing and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index 2010, Hawaii had the highest wellbeing among states in 2010 with a Well-Being Index score of 71.0. Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska are also among the 10 states with the highest overall wellbeing scores. West Virginia had the lowest wellbeing with a score of 61.7. The Southern states of Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama round out the states with the five lowest wellbeing scores.
These state-level data are based on daily surveys conducted from January through December 2010. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where a score of 100 represents ideal wellbeing. Well-Being Index scores among states vary by a narrow range of 9.3 points. The Well-Being Index score for the nation was 66.8 in 2010.
Ten Southern states have a Well-Being Index score that puts them in the lower range wellbeing group. There are also more states in the South with wellbeing scores in the lower range than there are throughout the rest of the country. Nevada, which is influenced by the poor wellbeing score in Las Vegas, is the only Western state with a lower range wellbeing score.
Many Western states, in contrast, shine in wellbeing, with 5 of the top 10 — Hawaii, Wyoming, Alaska, Colorado, and Utah — located in that region of the country.
Hawaii placed first in wellbeing in part by being the best performing state on three of the six sub-indexes that make up the Well-Being Index: Life Evaluation, Emotional Health, and Physical Health. West Virginia took last place in wellbeing because of the opposite: The state was the worst performing on the same three sub-indexes.
Delaware residents continue to report the worst work environments in the country, while those living in South Dakota are the most positive about their work situations.
Vermont still boasts the best overall health habits in America, and Kentucky continues to have the worst. Massachusetts residents have the best access to necessities crucial to high wellbeing, while Mississippi residents again have the worst, with a score on this index even lower than it was in 2009.
Improving wellbeing scores will be a challenge for leaders as many states have been facing and continue to encounter significant fiscal problems, including having to close public schools, lay off or cut salaries of public workers, and cut back on public services — all of which have the potential to affect different aspects of wellbeing.
Although money is tight, finding ways to increase residents’ access to good jobs and to basic necessities — including medical care in particular — and decrease costly, chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes will be the most likely means to improve wellbeing. At a time when state and local governments are challenged with being able to provide basic services, business leaders may be able to step in and play an important role in increasing wellbeing in their communities, which is good for business, as higher wellbeing means lower healthcare costs and greater economic growth.
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