NEW YORK (MainStreet) — What's it take to be a happy state? Ask someone from the Dakotas — they have the healthiest citizens and most robust employment in the nation.
That's according to the most recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which polled more than 178,000 Americans on topics like physical and emotional health, work environments and life evaluation. States were then given a score of one to 100 with 100 being ideal.
And while no state came close to "ideal," here's what it takes to make a happy state:
1. North Dakota (Well-being score: 70.4)
Fueled by the boomtown oil rush since the discovery of the Bakken Oil field, North Dakota shot up from 19th place in 2012 to first place in 2013. The state has topped all others in job creation for five years in a row, according to Gallup, and leads with an unemployment rate of just 2.7%, a job creation index of 40, and the highest payroll-to-population in nation. Residents are also decently healthy: 56% of those polled said they exercise frequently, and about just as many said they ate regularly ate produce. However, 26 percent are obese, a middling score.
But the oil fields might not make everything rosy: city optimism—believing the surrounding city or town is improving—polled the 14th lowest in the nation.
2. South Dakota (Well-being score: 70)
South Dakota has a robust job creation index of 30, and its unemployment rate of 3.6 is tied with Nebraska for second best in the nation. However, residents lost faith in the economy, dropping 10 points within the economic confidence index since 2012, down to a score of -21. The current national economic index is -20, according to Gallup.
3. Nebraska (Well-being score: 69.7)
Nebraska came very close to South Dakota in almost all categories. Residents were more optimistic about the economy, with an economic confidence index of -9. Their payroll-to-population rate ranked second best, and residents had the highest life evaluation score in the country, at 56.3.
4. Minnesota (Well-being score: 69.7)
Minnesota slipped from third place in 2012 to fourth place in 2013, but the residents are a still positive bunch. Minnesota has an economic confidence index of -2, the third least-negative in the nation. The state also came in fourth with the least number of insured people in the country –9.4 percent—beating out the first three frontrunners on this list. Residents also had a high city optimism rating at 67.1, the fifth highest in the country.
5. Montana (Well-being score: 69.3)
Montana climbed a spot from its previous 2012 ranking. The state has an enviable 5.4% unemployment rate and a modest economic growth index of 17. And apparently Montanans don't care about health insurance, with 20.7 of the population uninsured – the ninth highest in America –and won't participate in the Medicaid expansion program next year. But then again, Montana has a paltry 19.6% obesity rate, the lowest in the nation.
6. Vermont (Well-being score: 69.1)
Vermonters have a lot to be happy about. They polled the highest of all states in healthy behaviors, and have the third lowest rate of uninsured people (8.9%) in the nation. That probably lets them eat more of that sweet, sweet Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which would make anyone happy.
Vermonters are by far the least-religious people in the country, with 56.4% of residents identifying as non-religious -- the national average of non-religious people is 29.4, according to Gallup.
7. Colorado (Well-being score: 69.8)
Colorado slipped from second place to seventh in 2013 but is still going strong: Residents have the fifth highest exercise rate in the nation, at 59.8%, and has the second lowest obesity rate. Colorado has an average unemployment rate of 6.1%.
8. Hawaii (Well-being score: 68.4)
Hawaii had held the number one spot for well-being four years in a row, but shot down to the eighth place in 2013. It currently has the eighth lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and according to Gallup, only 12.1% of businesses are letting people go – the sixth lowest in the nation.
9. Washington (Well-being score: 68.3)
Despite a middling unemployment rate of 6.4%, Washington jumped from 15th to ninth place in 2013. It's also the only state beside Colorado to legalize marijuana. Coincidence? Probably.
10. Iowa (Well-being score: 68.2)
In 2011, Iowa introduced its Healthiest State Initiative, which aims to put it at the first spot on Gallup's well-being poll in 2016. Back then, the state was in the 19th slot. But Iowans still have to address the fact that they're in 43rd place for fresh produce consumption.
--Written by Craig Donofrio for MainStreet