By the Numbers
Summer, it seems, is the season of statistics. I've noticed a number of rankings in the news lately in which Hawaii has distinguished itself... for better or worse:
Hawaii tops the country in well-being, according to a Gallup survey. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index gives Hawaii a score of 69.4 (out of 100), edging ahead of Utah, which scored 68.7. Gallup conducted 170,000 interviews from January through June, covering life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities.
Today, Gallup further announced that Hawaii ranked second in healthy behavior. Vermont led the nation with a Healthy Behavior Index score of 69.1 (out of 100), with the Aloha State receiving a score of 67.8. The nation as a whole actually fell substantively on the Healthy Behavior Sub-Index, which specifically measures smoking, eating habits, and exercise.
Hawaii was one of two states to see double-digit gains in existing home sales in the second quarter of 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors. Idaho led the pack with a 67.5 percent gain, but Hawaii's real estate market placed second with a 24.2 percent increase.
Hawaii was ranked as the country's 31st most vulnerable state when it comes to oil prices. The average Hawaii driver spent 5.19% of his or her income on fuel in 2008, or $2,102 per year. The National Resources Defense Council found that drivers in every state were more vulnerable in 2008 than they were in 2006.
The NRDC also measured pollution-related closings and health advisories across the country's beaches, and found Hawaii ranked sixth in beachwater quality. The Hawaii report took note of the February 2009 grounding of the U.S.S. Port Royal, which discharged sewage during the incident.
U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said Hawaii ranked dead last in utilizing highway funding allocated as part of the Recovery Act. But state transportation chief Brennan Morioka said the ranking is misleading, as its projects are more complex but are definitely moving through the pipeline.
Hawaii was ranked second to last for business competitiveness. The CNBC study used publicly available data on 40 different measures including the cost of doing business, the cost of living, the economy, education, transportation, and "business friendliness." (On quality of life, Hawaii ranked fourth, but it wasn't enough to outweigh the other scores.) The only state ranked lower was Alaska.