BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Oil-rich North Dakota leads the nation in a survey of the emotional, physical and mental well-being of its residents, followed closely by its sister state South Dakota, according to a national survey.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey asked 178,000 Americans nationwide about their satisfaction with work and community, physical health, daily habits and access to basic necessities such as food and shelter.
North Dakota topped the survey with an overall score of 70.4 out of a possible 100. South Dakota scored 70 for the No. 2 spot.
North Dakota’s strong economy, thousands of unfilled jobs and a nearly $2 billion budget surplus have helped its residents feel a sense of well-being, said Dan Witters, the survey’s research director.
“We think it is reasonable to assume North Dakota’s economic boom in recent years plays into this,” Witters said.
Americans’ overall sense of well-being dropped from 66.7 in 2012 to 66.2 last year, the survey said. West Virginia ranked last in the survey, with a score of 61.4.
North Dakota scored highest in two of the six categories measured, work environment and physical health. The state did have its weaknesses, ranking 29th in basic access to necessities, and 29th in healthy behaviors, the survey said.
South Dakota ranked No. 2 in work environment and was in the top 10 for four of six categories. The survey scored South Dakota 25th for healthy behaviors, two spots higher than its neighbor to the north.
Jim Leary, a 73-year-old Bismarck retiree, said he was surprised that North Dakota ranked No.1 in the survey.
“I would have thought it would be someplace with a better climate and much less commotion like what we have going on with the oil,” he said.
The Dakotas’ biggest strength is in the workplace, where employees feel less bossed around than in other states, Witters said.
“Supervisors (in the Dakotas) act like more of a partner than a boss,” he said.
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