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South Salt Lake Journal

Utah ranked happiest state – should we throw a party?

Oct 05, 2021 09:33AM ● By Bill Hardesty

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

In September, declared that Utah is the Happiest State in America for 2021.

Agree? Disagree? Does it depend on the day? The hour? The minute?

Utah received a total score of 72.94. Minnesota was next at 67.52, and Hawaii coming in third with a score of 66.16. The least happy states are West Virginia (50), Arkansas (49), and Louisiana (48).

How did Utah get to the top? reviewed findings of happiness research to determine which environmental factors are linked to a person’s overall well-being. 

They measured each state across three key dimensions: emotional and physical well-being; work environment; and community and environment.

They used 31 relevant metrics across the dimensions. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale—a score of 100 representing maximum happiness. 

They also determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate an overall score. For example, emotional and physical well-being was weighted at 50 points. Work environment and community and environment were both weighted at 25 points. Finally, they used the resulting score to rank the states.

Utah was in first place for both the work environment and community and environment dimensions. Utah was ninth for the emotional and physical well-being dimension.


The emotional and physical well-being metrics included issues such as the share of adult depression, the percentage of alcohol use disorders, sports participation rate, the share of adults with mental health considered not good, life expectancy, suicide rate, and food insecurity rate. Utah ranked ninth.

The metrics for the work environment dimension included the number of work hours, commute time, household income, money concerns, unemployment rate, job security, income growth rate, and median credit score. Utah ranked first.

The community and environment dimension metrics included volunteer rate, ideal weather, average leisure time spent each day, separation and divorce rate, and safety. Utah ranked first.

Utah was No. 1 in the highest sports participation rate, fewest work hours, highest volunteer rate, and the lowest divorce rate. Utah was ranked fourth for safety. Utah was not in the bottom five for any metric.