America's Most Content (and Miserable) Cities
America’s Most Miserable Cities
10. Spartanburg, S.C.
> Well-being index score: 63.4
> Obesity: 26.7%
> Median household income: $40,167
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 81.8%
Spartanburg residents had among the lowest well-being scores in the nation, according to Gallup. Relative to the rest of the United States, they were far more likely to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, to have been diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, or have a heart attack. Nearly 51% of residents were classified by Gallup as “suffering,” while just 45.8% were qualified as “thriving,” one of the lowest figures in the country. In the area, median household income was $40,167, more than $10,000 lower than the national median. Many residents lacked the education necessary to earn higher incomes. In Spartanburg, less than 21% of residents have a college degree, versus 28.5% of all Americans.
9. Rockford, Ill.
> Well-being index score: 63.1
> Obesity: 28.8%
> Median household income: $45,191
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 86.4%
Rockford rates as one of the worst metro areas in the nation on Gallup’s emotional health index. Area respondents were among the most likely to have said they were disrespected, stressed and angry within the past day. Additionally, just 70.2% of residents were satisfied with their city, and only 38% thought Rockford was improving — both among the worst figures in the United States. With 706.5 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2011, Rockford was one of the most dangerous places in the country. Among the most prevalent violent crimes, relative to the rest of the nation, were robbery and aggravated assault.
8. Evansville, Ind.-Ky.
> Well-being index score: 63.1
> Obesity: 29.3%
> Median household income: $46,721
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 89%
Only one metropolitan area, Lafayette, La., was rated by Gallup as having poorer healthy behavior than Evansville. The metro area had one of the highest rates of smokers and among the lowest percentages of residents who exercised regularly or ate healthy all day. Possibly because of these poor practices, the city receives low marks for physical health, with residents facing higher likelihoods of having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Just 45.9% of residents were described by Gallup as “thriving.” After a year in which the unemployment rate declined substantially nationwide, it rose in Evansville by 0.7 percentage points to 8.4% over the 12 months ending in January.
7. Bakersfield, Calif.
> Well-being index score: 63.0
> Obesity: 29.6%
> Median household income: $45,224
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 72.8%
As of January, Bakersfield had one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, at 14.1%. With an extremely weak job market, many people struggled with access to basic necessities. Respondents also were far more likely than most Americans to say they lacked the money they needed to buy food, afford adequate shelter or ensure proper health care. According to Gallup, nearly 30% of residents polled had no health insurance, one of the highest rates in the nation. According to the Census Bureau, 24.5% of the area’s population lived below the poverty line in 2011, one of the highest rates in the country.
6. Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla.
> Well-being index score: 62.9
> Obesity: 28.9%
> Median household income: $35,965
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 82.8%
According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in the Fort Smith metro area was $35,965 in 2011 — one of just 15 metro areas with a median figure below $36,000. One reason for this may have been the limited education of many residents. As of 2011, only 15.7% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, among the lower figures in the nation and well below the 28.5% nationwide. But while many residents of Fort Smith lack a college education, they also are surprisingly more likely to enjoy their jobs. More than 91% of residents were satisfied with their work, and nearly 88% feel they work in a trusting environment, among the highest proportions in the country. Fort Smith is one of the worst metro areas for almost all major factors considered by Gallup, but ranks as one of the highest for quality of residents’ work environments.