Special Report

America's Most Content (and Miserable) Cities

America’s Most Miserable Cities

10. Evansville, Ind.-Ky.
> Well-Being Index score: 62.9
> Pct. adults with college degree: 22.2%
> Pct. smokers: 29.4%
> Median household income: $44,887

Half of Evansville residents said they were suffering last year, one of the highest proportions nationwide. Like most metro areas fairing poorly on the Well-Being Index, Evansville residents earned less than the average American. The median household income in the area was $44,887 in 2012, considerably less than the national median of $51,371. Respondents’ unhealthy habits contributed to their low well-being. Residents in only two other cities were less likely to engage in behaviors leading to good physical health. Nearly 29.4% of Evansville respondents said they smoked last year, and less than 60% ate healthily all day, both among the worst rates nationwide.

9. Mobile, Ala.
> Well-Being Index score: 62.9
> Pct. adults with college degree: 21.5%
> Pct. smokers: 22.8%
> Median household income: $39,691

Mobile, Alabama, had among the highest percentages of residents who said they were angry within the past 24 hours. Exceptionally high rates of violent crimes may be one cause for unhappiness. There were 552 violent crimes and about 11 murders per 100,000 residents in 2012, both among the most in the nation. Residents did not particularly enjoy their work either. Only a little more than half said they felt their bosses treated them as partners. In terms of health, the area also did not fare especially well. One in 20 residents said they had previously been diagnosed with cancer, one of the highest rates in the country. The area was also in the top 10% for the percentage of residents who suffered from high blood pressure.

ALSO READ: Ten U.S. Cities Where Violent Crimes is Soaring

8. Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
> Well-Being Index score: 62.9
> Pct. adults with college degree: 23.4%
> Pct. smokers: 24.7%
> Median household income: $44,118

The Shreveport economy has performed exceptionally poorly in recent years. According to IHS Global Insight, the area’s economy shrank by 11% in 2012, and again by more than 5% last year. The weak economy has likely impacted the well-being of residents. Shreveport was one of only a few metro areas where the unemployment rate worsened between December 2012 and December of last year, rising from 6.0% to 6.3%. In addition to enduring poor economic conditions, Shreveport residents also had some of the nation’s least healthy behaviors. Just 46% said they exercised for 30 minutes on a regular basis last year, less than residents of all but one other area.

7. Columbus, Ga.-Ala.
> Well-Being Index score: 62.3
> Pct. adults with college degree: 21.9%
> Pct. smokers: 27.4%
> Median household income: $42,972

Columbus area residents were among the most depressed in the country. Roughly 24% said they had been told by a physician or nurse that they suffered from depression, one of the highest percentages in the country. As much as 19% of people surveyed said that they had not experienced enjoyment within the past 24 hours, the seventh-highest percentage among cities surveyed. A large portion of the residents, roughly 23%, did not like the city in which they lived, also one of the highest rates in the Well-Being Index. A lack of access to basic needs, for which Columbus was rated among the worst in the nation, can also explain the residents’ unhappiness. The area ranked last, for example, in having easy access to medicine. And just 67% of respondents said they had enough money to buy food at all times last year, also the least nationwide.

ALSO READ: The 10 Cities Where No One Wants to Drive

6. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Tex.
> Well-Being Index score: 62.2
> Pct. adults with college degree: 17.1%
> Pct. smokers: 26.1%
> Median household income: $43,421

Beaumont residents gave their work environments some of the lowest ratings in the nation. Less than half of Beaumont residents said they were treated like a partner by their supervisors, much less than the 57% of Americans who said so last year. The area’s unemployment rate has been improving in recent years, but at 9.4% it is still among the highest nationwide. Like residents in a number of other miserable areas, Beaumont residents often did not practice healthy behaviors. Most notably, just 57.3% of respondents stated they had eaten healthy food all of the previous day, among the worst in the nation. According to a recent University of Vermont study reviewing more than 10 million tweets from around the country, Beaumont was rated as America’s saddest city.


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