Utah is the 2nd happiest state, according to study

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Salt Lake City skyline.

Utah isn’t the happiest place in the United States, but it’s close. According to a new study, it’s the second-happiest state in the union. And, somewhat surprisingly, a second study found Utah is the second-best state for teachers.

The personal finance website Wallethub.com compared the states across 32 “key indicators of happiness,” including depression and divorce rates, work hours and income growth, and COVID-19 factors. Only Hawaii factored out happier than the Beehive State.

Utah ranked No. 1 in fewest number of hours worked, volunteer rate, and separation and divorce rate; fourth in safety and sports participation; and sixth in adequate sleep rate, long-term unemployment rate and income growth. The state also ranked second among states with fewest coronavirus restrictions and 26th in positive COVID-19 testing rate over the four weeks leading up to the study, which was completed before Utah’s recent spike in coronavirus cases.

The study wasn’t all good news for Utah, however. The state ranked 47th for its rate of adult depression. Only Tennessee, Oregon and West Virginia had higher rates.

According to the Wallethub study, the 10 happiest states are:

1. Hawaii

2. Utah

3. Minnesota

4. New Jersey

5. Maryland

6. California

7. North Dakota

8. Iowa

9. Idaho

10. Connecticut

And the 10 least happy states are:

41. Oregon

42. Alaska

43. Alabama

44. Mississippi

45. Tennessee

46. Kentucky

47. Louisiana

48. Oklahoma

49. Arkansas

50. West Virginia

In a separate study, WalletHub also ranked Utah No. 2. The Beehive State tends to fare poorly in many national rankings related to public education — coming in last in per-pupil spending every year for more than two decades, and ranking 42nd in teacher salaries — but according to WalletHub, the state is No. 2 for “teacher-friendliness,” trailing only Washington.

The personal finance site analyzed 25 key metrics, including teachers' income growth potential, pupil-teacher ratio and whether the state has a digital learning plan, to come up with the rankings.

Utah ranked No. 1 in existence of a digital learning plan; No. 3 in teachers' income growth potential; No. 8 in projected competition in the year 2028; No. 9 in statewide school reopening; No. 13 in average teachers starting salary (adjusted for cost of living); No. 15 in 10-year change in teacher salaries; and No. 18 in quality of school system.

Again, not all the numbers were good. Utah ranks 49th in pupil-teacher ratio. And, according to WalletHub, 50th (out of 51, including the District of Columbia) in per-pupil spending.

According to the Wallethub study, the 10 best state for teachers are:

1. Washington

2. Utah

3. New Jersey

4. Delaware

5. Pennsylvania

6. North Dakota

7. Delaware

8. Maryland

9. New York

10. Oregon

And the 10 worst states for teachers are:

42. Hawaii

43. Tennessee

44. Missouri

45. Arkansas

46. District of Columbia

47. Louisiana

48. Maine

49. Arizona

50. New Mexico

51. New Hampshire