The Saddest Places in the United States

MainStreet.com (a personal-finance-oriented offshoot of TheStreet.com) just released its Happiness Index, a Prozac-addled tweak on the famous Misery Index. The latter, which combines unemployment and inflation statistics, captured the prevailing worries of the stagflation-prone 1970s; now that inflation has been tamed, MainStreet.com clearly felt it was time to throw housing into the mix.

The list ranks the fifty states and Washington, D.C. on three measures: unemployment, foreclosures and non-mortgage debt. It's a bit silly to call it the "Happiness Index," since, as we all know, money doesn't buy happiness (although maybe credit card debt could...). But it does provide a quantitative and fairly substantive accounting of the states hardest-hit by the housing bust.

So which states were most miserable? Not surprisingly, Sunbelt States like California, Nevada and Florida make up most of the bottom 10, largely because of their high foreclosure rates. The most miserable state was a bit surprising though: Oregon. Maybe it's all the rain?

If you're in need of a pick-me-up, skip the pharmaceuticals and move to Nebraska, the happiest state on the list. (Personally, I'd settle for the fourth-happiest state: Hawaii.)