America’s Most Miserable City

WalletHub has released its list of the 23 happiest cities. Researchers found that many people have been under stress recently. This should not be a surprise. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. Inflation has robbed many people of buying power. Despite a low jobless rate, layoffs have begun in many industries. The housing market is in crisis as high interest rates, brought on by the Federal Reserve, continue to punch higher, lowering prices and creating anxiety among buyers. (These are the best and worst states to retire to.)

The study does show that where people live and work has a significant effect on their happiness. The researchers used several yardsticks: “In order to determine the happiest cities in America, WalletHub compared 182 of the largest cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across three key dimensions: 1) Emotional & Physical Well-Being, 2) Income & Employment and 3) Community & Environment.” Cities were then rated on a scale of 0 to 100.

Many of the happiest cities were in California. Among the top 10, this included Fremont, San Jose, San Francisco and Irvine. Others were in Vermont: Burlington and South Burlington. Fremont has a score of 76.1. The highest by far.

Notable among the cities on the list is that they tend to be wealthy and have largely white populations. For example, Scottsdale and Seattle are on the list.

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The other end of the list contains a number of old industrial cities with populations that have declined over the past several decades.

Detroit is at the bottom with a score of 30.60. Huntington, West Virginia, is also near the bottom, as are Cleveland and Memphis.

Detroit has lost half of its population since 1950 as the large car companies have moved out and shuttered factories. Over 30% of the residents live in poverty. Thousands of homes sit vacant. City services are poor. And, there is no reason to think the situation will ever improve.

  • Detroit, Mich. (30.60)
  • Huntington, W.V. (32.83)
  • Shreveport, La. (33.21)
  • Cleveland, Ohio (34.16)
  • Montgomery, Ala. (35.40)
  • Memphis, Tenn. (35.48)
  • Augusta, Ga. (36.41)
  • Jackson, Miss. (37.33)
  • Columbus, Ga. (37.51)
  • Gulfport, Miss. (37.82)

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