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West Virginia Ranks Last for Well-Being. Again.

A new survey of state-by-state well-being in the U.S. has more bad news for West Virginia.


A coal scraper machine works on a pile of coal at American Electric Power's Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, W.Va.  (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Have you been thinking about packing up the family and shipping out to sunny West Virginia? Despite the recent chemical spill, which briefly shut down the water supply for 300,000 residents and ratcheted up extreme pessimism, do you figure the state may still be worth a shot?

A new survey out Thursday should give you pause.


In a state-by-state survey of well-being in the United States for 2013 by Gallup and Healthways, West Virginia comes in a distant last place. The Well-Being Index is ranked using a 0-100 scale for six sub-indexes: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and basic access. West Virginia came in last place for every sub-index aside from work environment, where it came in 14th.

West Virginia is virtually without peers in relative misery. The state has ranked dead last in well-being since 2009. But before that—in 2008, when the first survey was taken—it was second to last, beat out only by Mississippi.

The South as a whole isn't looking too great, either. Here's a map split into five quintiles of well-being. Green states are the top, blue the second group, yellow the third, orange the fourth, and red the bottom. (Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index)


The best place to live in the U.S. to attain maximum well-being? One of the Dakotas. North Dakota, with the nation's lowest unemployment rate at just 2.6 percent, leads the country in well-being, edging out South Dakota. Both states pushed past 2012's champion, Hawaii, to take the top spots for 2013.

So if you're already living in West Virginia, don't despair! There's always room for you in North Dakota.

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