Why NJ Doesn’t Have an Overwhelming Sense of Well-Being
A new report that ranks all 50 states according to residents’ sense of well-being puts New Jersey in the bottom half of the nation.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finds Hawaii is tops in the country, while the Garden State comes in 32nd.
“That’s kind of in the range where Jersey usually lands, last year it was 34th,” said Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index research director Dan Witters.
He said the index looks at a variety of factors including physical health.
“We’ll also look at what we call community well-being, which is your attachment to your community and feeling safe within it, giving back to it," he said.
Witters said other categories include financial well-being, living within your means and building financial security.
“We look at social well-being which is having a lot of love in your life, and finally we have what we call purpose well being, which is having the right career for you, whatever that may be in your life.”
The survey finds New Jersey has a very interesting profile.
“When it comes to social well being Jersey has the sixth-highest ranking in the country,” said Witters. “This is close, personal relationships, making time for trips with family and friends, and part of that also is Jersey has the fourth-lowest depression rate in the country.”
At the same time, he said “community well-being is what’s killing New Jersey right now, 49th in the nation.”
“Community well-being is about your emotional attachment to the community, feeling it’s perfect for you and your family, you like the housing that’s available to you, you feel safe and secure in it, you feel proud of it,” he said.
The survey also finds New Jersey residents rank low (40th in the country) on the "purpose well being metric" – whether you’ve got the right career for you, whether you’re using all you have to offer as a parent, student or employee.
He said only 18 percent of New Jersey residents have been involved in some kind of volunteer effort in their communities, one of the lowest rates in the nation at 44th.
"Only 51 percent of Jerseyans said they’ve set and reached most of their goals in the last 12 months and only two states have a lower percentage than that,” he said.
On the plus side, Witters said the Garden State has “the fifth-lowest tobacco use rate in the nation, and the rate for using smokeless tobacco is lowest in the nation - 1.3 percent use chew or some other form of smokeless tobacco, so those are all things to like about New Jersey.”
He also said “New Jersey’s obesity rate is 24.5 percent, the 10th-lowest in the country.”
In the health category, Witters said “71 percent of state residents have been to the dentist within the past 12 months, seventh best in the nation, and 84 percent of New Jerseyans have a personal doctor, the 11th highest percentage in the nation.”
The state that ranked worst on the Well-Being Index was Indiana.