North Dakota Tops National Well-Being Index Poll

WHITNEY STRAMER | THE SPECTRUM North Dakota ranked first in the nation in Gallup's recent Well-Being Index, jumping 18 places and replacing Hawaii as the best state.
North Dakota ranked first in the nation in Gallup’s recent Well-Being Index, jumping 18 places and replacing Hawaii as the best state.

North Dakota is all smiles, according to the recent release of a Gallup poll.

The survey found that the state’s well-being score, an average total taken from six sub-indices, was the highest in the land for the year 2013.

North Dakota received a score of 70.4 out of 100, where 100 represents the ideal well-being lifestyle.

States were polled on six subjects: Life Evaluation, Emotional Health, Work Envi­ronment, Physical Health, Healthy Behav­iors and Basic Access. North Dakota scored the best numbers in the nation in the Work Environment category, described by Gallup as “job satisfaction and workplace interac­tions” and Physical Health, the “physical ability to live a full life.”

Josh Blevins, a junior studying account­ing, is an advocate for North Dakota and attests for its supposed well-being. Blevins has lived in six states throughout his life, and North Dakota is his favorite.

While Blevins lived in fair-weather states like Arizona, Florida and California, he says that although the warmer climate is nice, the people are not.

“Those states have some really crappy people,” Blevins said. “There is a friendli­ness that comes from North Dakota.”

One of the many reasons why Blevins believes North Dakota is a cut above the rest is a reason why some detest the state: its ex­treme weather.

“By living in the cold weather, you learn to appreciate life a bit more,” Blevins said.

Trailing close behind North Dakota was South Dakota at an even 70 for second place. Minnesota tied Nebraska for third place, with both states earning a score of 69.7. Rounding out the top five was Montana, which scored a 69.3.

The state with the lowest well-being score for the fifth year in a row was West Virginia, which earned a score of 61.4.

North Dakota jumped 18 places from last year’s polling, the largest jump of any state. South Dakota ranked 12th last year, hopping ten places in 2013.

Last year’s top state, Hawaii, fell to eighth place this year, but that was by no means the most dramatic fall from grace. Wyoming, a state that was polled in 2012 as the 13th best state, dropped 21 places to 34th, a fall that pushed the state from the second-highest tier to the fourth.

The highest scores were predominantly found in northern states, particularly in the Midwest and West Coast, while the lowest scores were located in the southern and Mid- Atlantic region of the United States.

While rankings fluctuate fluidly in the top four tiers, with many states moving up and down in position since last year, the same cannot be said of the fifth and bottom tier. The biggest leap found from a state in the fifth tier was Tennessee, which moved from 47th to 44th. Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia remained 48th, 49th and 50th, respectively.

The national average fell from 66.7 in 2012 to 66.2 this year, which ties 2011 as the lowest recorded trough since polling began in 2009.

This fall surprised some, as the United States continues to bounce back from the recession. The Dow Jones Industrial Aver­age is over 16,000 points, and during trading last Monday, The S&P 500 reached record numbers before closing a point shy of its all-time high.

Research by Gallup has correlated well-being rankings to job creation. North Dakota leads the nation in this category, thanks in large part to the Bakken oil boom in the western part of the state.

Gallup’s findings stem from a random sample of more than 170,000 phone inter­views that took place from Jan. 2, 2013, through Dec. 29, 2013.


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