These are the states with the best (and worst) career wellbeing

Our wellbeing is inextricably connected to the workplace. Our overall wellness factors into our job performance, not to mention our absenteeism. But the relationship goes both ways: If we’re not happy in a job, that means one of the most important parts of our life is off-kilter and our wellbeing suffers the consequences.

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Since 2008, Gallup has measured Americans’ wellbeing across the country using an index that includes “five essential elements of wellbeing:” Career, social, financial, community and physical wellbeing. Gallup defines career wellbeing as “liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals.” 


Gallup just released new rankings from 2018, based on upwards of 115,000 surveys conducted throughout the year. Overall, high wellbeing appears to be concentrated in the West, with a few areas in the Northeast also scoring well on the index. The South and Midwest, in contrast, tend to rank low on the wellbeing index.

States with the highest overall wellbeing

  1. Hawaii
  2. Wyoming
  3. Alaska
  4. Montana
  5. Utah
  6. Colorado
  7. Vermont
  8. Delaware
  9. South Dakota
  10. North Dakota

States with the lowest overall wellbeing

  1. West Virginia
  2. Arkansas
  3. Kentucky
  4. Mississippi
  5. Tennessee
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Alabama
  8. Louisiana
  9. Ilinois
  10. Indiana

When Gallup refines the results to focus solely on career wellbeing, however, the rankings shift slightly. The top states for career wellbeing are to be expected, based on the top 10 states overall: Hawaii, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Alaska all appear to have workers who look forward to going into the office every day. But the states that don’t perform as well in career wellbeing may come as a surprise, as at least one of them is considered a hub for career development.

According to Gallup’s surveys during 2018, New York, Kentucky, Oregon, Arkansas and West Virginia had the worst scores for career wellbeing. For those of us who grew up watching workplace television series based in New York, or who dreamed of relocating to Manhattan specifically for career growth, the fact that so many New Yorkers are unhappy and unmotivated in their jobs may come as a shock.


In other categories, New York doesn’t rank among either the best or worst states. Hawaii again tops the list for social wellbeing alongside Delaware, Vermont, Utah and Florida; Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, West Virginia and Arkansas pale in comparison. For financial wellbeing, Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota, Delaware and New Hampshire nab the top spots, countered by Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana and Oklahoma at the bottom.

Community wellbeing is good in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii and Vermont, but not in Illinois, Maryland, Louisiana, New Mexico or West Virginia. And people feel physically well in Alaska, Colorado, Wyoming, Hawaii and Connecticut (but less so in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and West Virginia).

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