20 States Where Americans Are the Unhappiest, Study Shows

Ever thought the number of unhappy people around you is higher than it should be? Research says you might be onto something. The residents of certain states have significantly lower happiness levels than others.

Do you live in one of them?

How To Measure Happiness

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A study released by Zippia attempted to measure each state’s average happiness by evaluating six key factors: depression rates, household income, unemployment, commute length, hours worked, and marriage rate. The better the ranking in each category, the happier the state. 

1: Louisiana

Sunrise over a field.
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The bayou blues are real in Louisiana, where a low average household income of $47,905 and long workweek averaging 39 hours don’t add up to the American dream. One of the nation’s lowest marriage rates of 46% might contribute to Louisiana’s ranking as the unhappiest state in America.

2: Mississippi 

Bridge over the Mississippi River.
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Even though Mississippi residents put in long hours at the office, their paychecks don’t necessarily reflect all that hard work, with an average household income of $44,717. This might be why the Magnolia State is one of the nation’s unhappiest. 

3: Tennessee

Mountains in the fall.
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Tennessee residents might be volunteering too much extra time at the office. An average 39-hour workweek might be contributing to the state’s fairly high depression rate, which makes for one unhappy population. 

4: Alabama

Sign saying "Welcome to state of Alabama."
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An average household income of less than $50,000 doesn’t sit well with residents of Alabama. Even a short 24-minute commute doesn’t seem to make up for the lack of income for that 39-hour workweek. 

5: Rhode Island

A lighthouse in Rhode Island.
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The unhappiest of the New England states, Rhode Island’s low 44% marriage rate might be a contributing factor to its low morale. In fact, the nation’s smallest state also has one of the highest depression rates in America, according to Zippia. 

6: Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia skyline.
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Atlanta traffic is no joke, and Georgians who spend an average of 28 minutes in rush hour gridlock are not likely to be enjoying themselves. However, a slightly higher household income than in other Southern states might help to make up for it. 

7: Florida

Areal view of Naples, Florida.
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Between hurricane season and sweltering summers, Florida residents aren’t exactly enjoying the breezy beach life. An average 38-hour workweek and 27-minute commute don’t do much to boost morale. 

8: West Virginia

Sunset in West Virginia.
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Having the nation’s lowest average household income ($44,097) is a pretty good reason for West Virginians to be unhappy. As a silver lining, a 50% marriage rate seems to lift at least half the population’s spirits in comparison to the states in the bottom seven. 

9: Delaware

Bethany Beach at sunrise.
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Money doesn’t buy happiness in Delaware, where a higher average household income of $64,805 still has to contend with a significantly higher cost of living. This financial discrepancy could explain why this tiny state has such a high depression rate. 

10: Massachusetts

Park in Boston, Massachusetts.
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A long workweek and average 29-minute commute don’t exactly spell out happiness for Massachusetts locals. A low marriage rate of 48% could also contribute to the Bay State’s generally more depressed population. 

11: North Carolina

View of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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Averaging around 24 minutes, the daily commute is relatively good in North Carolina. But the 39-hour workweek still takes its toll on hard-working locals, who don’t seem to think that their average household income of $53,855 is worth the extra effort. 

12: Connecticut

Hartford skyline, Connecticut.
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A sufficient average household income of $76,348 seems to satisfy Connecticut residents, who brave a roughly 26-minute commute each day. However, long winters with shorter periods of sunlight might contribute to the state’s high depression rate. 

13: South Carolina

Oak trees over a dirt road.
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Long workweeks take their toll on South Carolina locals. Luckily, a 24-minute average commute seems to help provide a bit of work-life balance.

14: Oklahoma

A bison walking in the grass.
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One of the nation’s shortest average commutes at just 21 minutes is a boon to the Sooner State, though Oklahoma residents still aren’t fans of their long workweeks. That said, a 51% marriage rate and low unemployment bode well for the population’s future prospects. 

15: Texas

Texas flag.
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Texas unfortunately boasts the longest average workweek in the nation at a full 40 hours. Lone Star State residents may work hard, but they play hard, too, with the highest average household income ($60,629) of the Southern states. 

16: New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico city skyline.
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Long hours at the office might contribute to New Mexico’s low marriage rate of 46% and higher rates of depression. A low average household income of $47,169 doesn’t help matters. 

17: Nevada

Road through mountains in Nevada.
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With almost identical stats to New Mexico, Nevada fairs a bit better than its southeastern neighbor, thanks to a higher household income of $58,646. More money in the bank might contribute to a slightly lower depression rate, too. 

18: Illinois

Rockford, Illinois skyline at night.
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Commuting in Illinois is no joke, with locals sitting in traffic for roughly 29 minutes every day to get to the office for an average 38-hour workweek. A decent household income of $65,030 and a 50% marriage rate help even things out. 

19: Michigan

Lansing, Michigan state capital building.
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Long hours at the office don’t exactly equate to a bigger paycheck in Michigan, where the average household income hovers around $56,697. However, the 24-minute average commute isn’t too terrible. 

20: New York 

City view of Albany.
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No one gets to work in a New York minute. The Empire State holds the distinction of the longest average commute in America at 33 minutes, which definitely doesn’t bode well for state-wide morale. 

Better Together

Couple walking on a beach boardwalk.
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It might seem odd to include marriage rates in a happiness survey, but studies show that married people are roughly 8.8% happier than unmarried people. That being said, marriage doesn’t cause happiness, but having a happy marriage and healthy social interactions can positively impact the overall quality of life. 

A Trend Emerges

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Generally speaking, the states that comprise the Southeastern United States are the unhappiest in the nation, taking up seven of the bottom 10 spots. Low average household income and long workweeks are common denominators among these unhappy states. 

Where the Happy People Are

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Based on Zippia’s findings, the happiest states in the US are clustered around the West and Midwest, including Utah, Montana, and Wisconsin. In general, these states enjoy a higher marriage rate and average household income, lower commute times, and shorter workweeks. 

The More the Merrier?

Twenty dollar bill in a pocket.
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While it’s said that money doesn’t buy happiness, 79% of Americans reported that they believe more money would make them happier, according to Zippia. 

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Dog running with American flag.
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According to the 2022 World Happiness Report, the United States scored 6.89 out of 10 on the happiness index, with 10 being the happiest a nation could be. This is the lowest America has scored since 2019, though it’s still higher than the world average of 5.53.

Happiest Country

Snowy building in Imatra.
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Finland is the happiest country in the world, with strong feelings of communal support and minimal feelings of government corruption contributing to its ranking.

11 Best States for Singles Looking for Love

Happy couple.
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Are you struggling to meet that special someone? According to data collected by WalletHub, it might be because you’re living in the wrong state.

11 Best States for Singles Looking for Love

24 “Compliments” That Are Actually Condescending

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Some Americans have mastered the art of a double-edged nice comment. Others, more well-intentioned, don’t mean to say something judgmental but end up there just the same.

“Bless Her Heart.” 24 Compliments That Are Actually Condescending

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