Bright, tropical flowers and cool breezes, miles of beckoning beaches and warm, Polynesian hospitality.
These are just a few reasons why Hawaii was named the happiest state in the nation for the second year running, according to a recent report from WalletHub. They don’t call this place paradise for nothing—especially come January, when much of the rest of the country is buried under snow or suffering through miserable cold.
To come up with its rankings, the personal finance site looked at work conditions, the emotional and physical well-being of residents, and the community and environmental conditions of each state.
The happiest states “have a large share of residents who feel active and productive. They also have the largest shares of households earning more than $75,000 annually, and low separation and divorce rates,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said in a statement.
Hawaii earned high marks for having the lowest percentage of depression in adults in the country. With year-round warm weather, residents don’t have to worry about the winter blues.
“Half of Hawaii’s households are earning an annual income above $75,000, less than 30% worry about money, and the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates,” Gonzalez said.
The state also came in fifth for both highest income growth and lowest divorce rates.
But Hawaii has a big downside: Some of the highest home prices in the country. The statewide median list price was a whopping $643,500 as of July 1, according to realtor.com® data. That puts much of homeownership out of reach for those who aren’t card-carrying members of the richest 1%.
West Virginia had the second-highest percentage of adult depression. Only Maine had a higher rate.
More bad news? “The state has the second-lowest life expectancy, and some of the highest suicide and food insecurity rates,” Gonzalez said.
The unemployment rate was also high, at 4.7%—a full percentage point higher than the national rate of 3.7% in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And nearly a fifth of the population was living in poverty in 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
But on the plus side, home list prices were reasonable, at just $175,000 as of July 1. Buyers can score a newly remodeled three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,700-square-foot home in Charleston, WV, for just $134,900.
Rounding out the top 10 unhappiest states were Arkansas, Alaska, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Missouri.
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