As our state lawmakers deliberate in Atlanta, they should look into the data of the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index just released. It measures through 2.3 million surveys how Americans “feel about and experience their daily lives.”

The index is broken down into five areas: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. Why is such an index important? It’s another tool in the toolbox businesses can use to decide where to locate. According to the index, “Employers across the country are implementing well-being improvement initiatives to increase their competitiveness and create meaningful differentiation.”

How does Georgia fare when compared with other states? We are 41st and dropping. In 2014, we were at 31st. What’s changed? One of the five measures, “Social,” is defined in the index as having “supportive relationships and love in your life.” Georgia is next to last in that category. Certainly lawmakers can’t do anything about that, but the state also ranks 41st in “Community”: “Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community.” The state can do something about that, but it’s hard to do when 400,000-plus citizens don’t have medical coverage and in many communities health care is more than a golden hour away while dollars that could expand coverage here are headed to other states.

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