First off, poverty rates are a lot higher in the South.
In the map above, red shading indicates a poverty rates between 17.9 and 22.8 percent. Orange indicates 15.9 to 17.8 percent; light orange, 12.2-15.8 percent; pale yellow, 9 to 12.1 percent. As you can see, there's a lot of high-poverty red in the South.
And minimum wages are much lower.
And people living in the South are a lot less likely to move up the economic ladder.
Many living in poverty in the South are being denied access to affordable health care.
...which is costing these states a ton of money.
This is particularly troubling because the South has several health crises on its hands. Like obesity.
Southern states also have a higher percentage of cigarette smokers.
And a much higher rate of teen births.
Perhaps all this is why some Southern states are among the least happy states in the country.