These are the happiest states in the union. How did Pa. do? | The Numbers Racket

By: - October 5, 2020 6:30 am

WalletHub map of the happiest states in the U.S. (Capital-Star Screen Capture).

Sickness, isolation and job loss caused by a global pandemic has made 2020 a difficult year, so far.

Finding itself curious which states are the happiest during these trying times, WalletHub, a personal finance website, conducted a study measuring 32 different metrics across all 50 states to determine ranks for each state based on a combination of those metrics. 

Here’s what they found: 

Source: WalletHub

Top ten happiest states

  1. Hawaii
  2. Utah
  3. Minnesota
  4. New Jersey
  5. Maryland
  6. California
  7. North Dakota
  8. Iowa
  9. Idaho
  10. Connecticut

Pennsylvania: In case you were wondering, the Keystone state didn’t crack the top 20, coming in at number 28, just below Florida. 

This is surprising because many other Appalachian states ranked among the most unhappy. For example, Tennessee landed at 45 on the list, just above Kentucky. West Virginia, is the most unhappy state in the union. 

The least happiest states

  1. Kentucky
  2. Louisiana
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Arkansas
  5. West Virginia

The states were ranked according to four factors:

  • Emotional and Physical Well-being
  • Work Environment
  • Community and Environment
  • Overall happiness rank

The study found that income growth, safety, volunteer, unemployment and suicide rates, among others all tended to contribute to the overall happiness of a state’s population. 

Income growth

The top five states with the highest income growth are: 

  1. Oregon
  2. Washington
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Hawaii

The bottom five are: 

  1. West Virginia
  2. Wyoming
  3. New Mexico
  4. Alaska
  5. Louisiana 


The study found that safety and feeling safe in their state made 50 times the difference in the happiness of that state’s population. 

Top five safest states: 

  1. Maine
  2. Vermont
  3. Minnesota
  4. Utah
  5. Wyoming

The least safe:

  1. Texas
  2. Arkansas
  3. Florida
  4. Louisiana
  5. Mississippi


WalletHub concluded that states with higher volunteer rates often had higher rates of happiness. 

For instance, three of the top 10 happiest states ranked in the top five for highest volunteer rates. 

Highest volunteer rates

  1. Utah
  2. Minnesota
  3. Oregon
  4. Iowa
  5. Alaska

Lowest volunteer rates

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Nevada
  4. Mississippi
  5. Florida

While California ranked in the top ten happiest states, it has one of the lowest volunteer rates, showing us that other factors contributed to its higher happiness rating. 


2020 has been difficult for workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing employment rates and consequently, happiness, to take a slide. 

States with the lowest long-term unemployment

  1. North Dakota
  2. Alaska
  3. Iowa
  4. Nebraska
  5. Montana

States with the highest long-term unemployment

  1. Maryland
  2. Florida
  3. Illinois
  4. New Jersey
  5. New Mexico

Maryland, which ranks in the top 10  for happiest states, ranks among the bottom for its high unemployment rate. However, the state’s high emotional and physical well being rank (third) and top-ten community and environment rank (nine) helped land Maryland in the top 10  overall.  

Suicide rates

WalletHub reported that living in a state with a lower suicide rate made three-times the difference in its population’s happiness. 

States with the lowest suicide rates

  1. New Jersey (Tied)
    1. New York (Tied)
    2. Rhode Island
    3. Massachusetts
    4. Maryland

States with the highest suicide rates

46. Idaho

47. Alaska

48. Montana

49. New Mexico 

50. Wyoming


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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.