Special Report

The Most Miserable Cities in America, According to Residents

Truth to be told, almost anyone would rather live in Malibu — the pristine California city overlooking the Pacific — than in Detroit, with its vacant homes, high poverty level, and shrinking population. Recently, people have begun to move from large coastal cities like New York and San Francisco to cities that they feel are even more desirable with better standards of living.

Of course, not everyone can live in one of these large cities. Many people live in areas with rampant poverty, unhealthy populations, and high crime rates. And based on a recently released research, America’s most miserable city, according to residents, is Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

To identify the most miserable city in America, according to residents, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the happiness score of all 383 metro areas in the U.S. from digital health company Sharecare’s Community Well-Being Index.

The index measures communities’ overall health on the basis of 10 domains. Five represent individual well-being factors: physical, community, social relationships, financial, and sense of purpose. Another five are social determinants of health: health care access, food access, resource access, housing and transportation, and economic security. Sharecare surveyed more than 450,000 U.S. adults on the 10 domains as well as analyzed more than 600 elements of social determinants of health from additional data sources.

Based on this research, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, is America’s most miserable city. According to Census data, the poverty rate in the city is a remarkably high 26.8%. The median annual household income is $34,723, which is about half the national figure. Slightly less than 20% of the city’s population is white and over 76% is Black.

When it comes to happiness, counties in non-metro areas scored lower on the index’s 100-point scale than counties in metro areas. Metro counties scored higher in all categories except community resources such as libraries and churches. (These are America’s 50 best cities to live.)

The South appears to be the region with the most cities where residents feel unhappy. And though Sharecare’s data shows resilience and improvement in well-being in many places, happiness gaps have persisted in rural areas, and in many cases, such gaps have even increased. (This is the worst city to live in every state.)

Click here to see the most miserable cities in America, according to residents

Editor’s note: In a previous version of this article, Pine Bluff, Arkansas was incorrectly listed as Pine Bluff, Arizona. The error has been corrected. 

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