I know, I’m just as surprised as you might be. The New Jersey lifestyle can be truly chaotic. Stress consumes me just thinking about the hustle of commuting, the persistent potholes, the unrealistic cost of living. However, New Jersey is one of the happiest states in America, according to a 2020 study done by Wallethub.
The research dealt with 32 internal and external factors that impact an individual’s happiness. It included work environment, mental health, financial situations and coronavirus testing rates. Each was graded on a 100-point scale, 100 being maximum happiness. New Jersey scored 64.10—only 5.4 points away from the happiest state. That of course went to Hawaii, which scored 69.58.
The data were compared from all 50 states across the country. The results showed that despite the uncertain times we live in, New Jerseyans know how to overcome the ugly and focus on their own happiness.
What I Can Believe
New Jersey Has the Lowest Share of Adult Depression
The rise of telemedicine has been vital to mental health care in 2020. It has benefitted many that are unable to commute for therapy or other medical appointments. Fortunately, telemedicine is only one of the many tools New Jerseyans have at their fingertips.
New Jersey ranked in first place with the lowest percentage of depressed adults and suicide rates. According to America’s Health Ranking Organization, at least for the past five years, these rates have been consistent.
The state prioritizes its residents’ mental health through a variety of resources. Between telemedicine, the help of the New Jersey Hopeline and suicide prevention hotlines, many residents in the state have access to safe and confidential help from professionals.
After all, the Garden State has been named within the most progressive states by MedLink Staffing. This indicates that reducing telehealth-related restrictions in New Jersey favors patients seeking virtual care and professionals providing virtual care.
New Jersey is one of the Happiest States: Third Lowest Divorce Rate
In the study, specialists found a connection between a steady marriage and happiness. In the state, we cherish the value of unity within our families and it is displayed through the many programs offered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS). These services provide New Jerseyans with encouragement and support to go on even through difficulties.
Expert Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., when asked about the key to a happy life answered, “The connection you have to others adds to that sense of fulfillment because relationships provide both emotional and social support.”
As mentioned, close relationships, such as marriages are impactful when it comes to having an overall feeling of satisfaction. But these connections can be difficult to maintain in the long run, having a support system in our community can make marriages and even families help become solid. New Jersey’s DHS has made sure to provide help and support making the list of the top three states with the lowest divorce rates.
What Took Me By Surprise
NJ is Among the Hardest Working States
In Wallethub’s report, New Jersey ranked 16 in the number of work hours when compared to the rest of the states. It comes as a shock to me that New Jersey still makes it into the top 20 of the list because the state’s current minimum wage is $11 per hour. This means that working at a full-time job, 40 hours a week for 12 months, equals earning less than $22,000 per year.
When asked, “How important is money to people’s happiness?” Wallethub experts agreed that money isn’t the key to contentment. But they did note that a stable income that satisfies the individual’s needs can positively impact their happiness. So, how can one be joyful if the state’s cost of living is nowhere near those figures?
I believe it supports the data reporting New Jersey as one of the states with the highest long-term unemployment rate. Together with the stimulus checks received earlier in the year, the benefits of the recipients went from half of their average rate to an additional $600 until the month of August due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Later, when businesses started to open back up, many decided to stay home and continue to claim unemployment benefits. They were then receiving more than a minimum-wage full-time job would provide for them.
Having worked while attending college has taught me to value the things I am able to afford. In other words, up until January of this year, my earning wage has been lower than $11. This has translated into having multiple part-time jobs at a time to be able to meet my own basic needs, including student debt.
New Jersey is one of Happiest States Despite Rising in COVID-19 Cases
Although New Jersey has enforced cautionary measures, the state seems to be experiencing an early second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. Or, perhaps just the last bit of the first one. It wasn’t the fact itself that surprised me, but rather the study revealing that in the last four weeks, coronavirus cases in New Jersey have spiked. In truth, our proximity to New York City–one of the epicenters through this pandemic–might have to do with it.
I would have expected this information to negatively affect New Jersey residents at an emotional level even more. Yet, the state continues to prove my assumptions wrong.
New Jersey will continue to provide assistance and benefits during the outbreak, putting its residents’ well-being in a high place in the list of priorities. Possibly, it is the state’s urgency to maintain everyone safe what has had a positive effect on us.
Certainly, in New Jersey, we have had our own difficulties in the course of this pandemic but we have persisted and focused on what’s ahead. We are all in this together!