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.  
National Journal
Matt Berman
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Matt Berman
Feb. 20, 2014, 4:04 a.m.

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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