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The 5 States Where America’s Happiest Workers Live

Give it up for... West Virginia?

Image via Sokanu.

At a time of national and personal reflection, it’s natural that the pursuit of happiness is on people’s minds: in life, in politics, and in work, which — let’s face it — consumes as much of our existence (if not more) as sleeping.

But how much does location have to do with it all? Respondents to a survey on career satisfaction across America raised some interesting questions about how geography matches up with a decent work-life balance.

As tabulated by the career discovery platform Sokanu, the top 10 states for highest workplace satisfaction include more than a few states where many young job-seekers probably wouldn’t venture. Chill-tastic Hawaii sits at the top, and bucolic Kansas pops up at five. But the second-place and third-place finishers, West Virginia and Maine, aren’t exactly known as 21st-century lifestyle hotspots. They’re rural, they’re isolated, and they’re not exactly progressive.

In fact, the rest of the top 10 is rounded out by other states that generally fit that profile — places like South Dakota, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Alaska. While younger job-seekers often think in terms of the biggest five or 10 U.S. cities, it seems like some greener pastures might be found farther afield.

Of course, the red-state/blue-state concept glosses over the fact that many states are more divided or jumbled with different kinds of voters and people than people assume. It’s not clear from the Sokanu survey whether the residents putting their states on the professional happiness map are clustered in cities, spread out in the countryside, scattered in the suburbs, or some combination of all three.

But if there’s one thing we can safely venture to guess, it’s that America probably still offers more unexpected bites at the apple of happiness than it seems — despite our real problems that keep on ratcheting up.

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