Nebraska has captured the #1 spot on a list of America’s fiscally happiest states, based on several financial and economic indicators, according to MainStreet.com, which also reports that Oregon – which came in dead last at #51 – is the least happy state.
MainStreet.com’s “Happiness Index,” a new national survey of economic well-being, ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia in order from most fiscally happy to most fiscally sad.
The ratings are based on a cross-section of key financial factors that include average non-mortgage debt relative to average annual income, foreclosure numbers and the unemployment rate.
Specific findings are listed below.
Midwest is Happiest
According to the index, the US Midwest is one of the most financially content parts of the country, with Nebraska followed by Iowa (#2) and Kansas (#3).
The top 10 are rounded out by Hawaii (#4), Louisiana (#5), Oklahoma (#6), Wyoming (#7), South Dakota (#8), West Virginia (#9) and Wisconsin (#10).
Surprisingly, several states that include major cosmopolitan and cultural centers ranked poorly in terms of financial happiness, MainStreet.com said. And while the the state of Oregon is the saddest state, Florida (#50), California (#49), Nevada (#48) and Rhode Island (#47) did not fare much better.
“It may be conventional wisdom that highly populated urban areas, where salaries may be bigger, can fuel financial satisfaction, but that’s not necessarily so,” added Harleen Kahlon, general manager of MainStreet.com “Looking squarely at the numbers, it seems that there is a great deal more economic contentment in the small cities, towns and corn fields of the Midwest.”
About the survey: MainStreet.com’s Happiness Index was based on state residents’ non-mortgage debt as a percentage of their annual household income (sources: Experian Credit Group and 2007 US Census, respectively); the state’s unemployment rate (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/February 2009); and the number of foreclosures in the state (source: Realtytrac.com/February 2009). Each category was given equal weighting, with unemployment rates serving as a tiebreaker when necessary.