The 6 Happiest Cities In America


Photo: gbein83 on flickr

What cities have the happiest people?Based on a new poll from Gallup, a key factor is local employment level. Economic growth also contributes to happiness, as do personal factors like frequent exercise and low obesity.

We identified six cities that scored in the top 10 for “satisfaction with the community” and “optimism outlook for the community.”

Little Rock, Ark

Satisfied residents: 91.8%

Optimistic residents: 68.6%

Little Rock bounced back quickly from the recession, with 0.6% employment growth from third to fourth quarter last year, leading to America's twelfth-lowest unemployment rate. Being a state capital and a college town helped during the recession.

Source: Gallup

Raleigh, N.C.

Satisfied residents: 91.8%

Optimistic residents: 71.0%

Raleigh was relatively unharmed by the recession. Unemployment is below average at 8.3%, aided by steady government and university jobs.

Source: Gallup

Austin, Texas

Satisfied residents: 92.5%

Optimistic residents: 72.8%

Austin powered through the recession, with only a 0.9% decline in employment from peak and a 7% decline in home prices. Like other cities on this list, it is a state capital and a college town.

Gallup rates Austin's overall wellbeing in the top 10, thanks to frequent exercise.

Source: Gallup

Fort Collins, Colo.

Satisfied residents: 96.1%

Optimistic residents: 69.5%

Another happy, health mountain city, rated third in overall wellbeing. Residents are 9% less likely to be obese than average and 7% more likely to get frequent exercise.

Unemployment is below average at 8.4%.

Source: Gallup

Lincoln, Neb.

Satisfied residents: 96.7%

Optimistic residents: 70.2%

Lincoln has America's lowest unemployment rate at 4.1%. Being a state capital with a major university cushions employment during tough times.

In personal wellbeing, Lincoln is second only to Boulder.

Source: Gallup

Provo, Utah

Satisfied residents: 92.9%

Optimistic residents: 76.9%

Provo has America's tenth lowest unemployment rate at 6.8%. Residents have America's fourth highest wellbeing score, according to Gallup, thanks to frequent exercise and almost no obesity.

People are happy despite an average income 42% below the national average.

Source: Gallup

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