For the first time in five years, Hawaii does not rank highest in Gallup's annual well-being poll. Instead, North Dakota takes the top spot, with a well-being score of 70.4 out of 100, according to a new report released Friday by the polling agency.
Coming in at No. 2 is South Dakota with a score of 70.0. Minnesota and Nebraska are tied at No. 3 with a 69.7 score. Hawaii fell all the way to No. 8.
Other Midwestern states scored well, too. Iowa was No. 10 with 68.2 points, and Wisconsin ranked 14th with a score of 67.7.
A state known for oil drilling and harsh winters doesn't seem like an obvious choice as the happiest state in the country. But Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, isn't surprised that North Dakota came in at No. 1, according to Fox News.
"Historically, it's had a lot of top-10 rankings," Witters said. "It's never been No. 1, but it's been way up there."
Gallup has done the state happiness rankings for the past eight years. It surveys more than 176,000 Americans, including some from every state, on six measures of well-being:
- Outlook on life
- Emotional health
- Work environment
- Physical health
- Healthy behaviors
- Access to basics such as food, housing and health care
So how did North Dakota get to be such a great place to live? According to Valley News Live in Fargo, it has a lot to do with the oil boom. The state has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and most workers -- fast food workers, wait staff in restaurants, even strippers -- earn far higher wages than workers with similar jobs in other states.
Based on U.S. Census Bureau regions, Midwestern and Western states earned nine of the 10 highest well-being scores in 2013, while Southern states had eight of the 10 lowest well-being scores.
The least happy states are West Virginia and Kentucky, which rank at the bottom of the poll for the fifth year in a row.