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Don’t worry, be happy … that you live in Minnesota


Well, here’s some, um, happy news: Minnesota is the second happiest state to live in, according to the personal finance website WalletHub.

Only Utah outranks us.

WalletHub came up with its “happiness” rankings of the 50 states and the District of Columbia after analyzing data collected from the annual Gallup-Healthways poll, which measures well-being around the world. A wide-ranging array of factors was considered, including emotional health, sports participation, income levels, commute time, volunteerism rate and the prevalence of community attractions.

“Income isn’t the only determinant of personal happiness,” WalletHub’s editors write in the introduction to the rankings. “Apart from financial security, a pleasant state of being also depends on one’s mental and physical health, job situation, experience of positive feelings, environment, social connections and general outlook on life.”

Minnesota actually came in first in the “emotional & physical wellbeing” category. Where we slipped — a bit — was in the “work” category  (we came in third behind Utah and Iowa) and in the “community, environment & recreational activities” category (we were fourth behind, yes, once again, Utah, as well Hawaii and North Dakota).

OK. I understand why Hawaii and maybe Utah (they do have mountains, after all) would beat us in that category, but North Dakota?

In fact, North Dakota finished an impressive third in the overall rankings, and not far behind were two other of our immediate neighbors, Iowa (seventh) and South Dakota (ninth). Our neighbor to the east, Wisconsin, didn’t do so well, however. It came in 22nd overall, and 25th in the “work” category, which included not only income levels and commute time, but also work hours, job security and the long-term unemployment rate.

Other categories in which Minnesota did particularly well were:

  • highest volunteerism rate (second)
  • safest place to live (third)
  • lowest divorce rate (fifth)

Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking about moving south to escape Minnesota’s seemingly endless winters, consider this: The six states with the lowest “happiness” ratings in this report were southern ones: West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.

And Florida — that great winter mecca for many Minnesotans — came in a sullen 36th on the list.

You can read the report in full on the WalletHub website.

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