According to the most recent survey of American happiness and well-being, the country’s residents are just a little less well off than they were in 2010 in terms of their habits, environment, and emotional and physical health. The nation’s “Well-Being Index” score, computed by Gallup-Healthways as part of an annual survey, was 66.2 out of 100 in 2011—the lowest since Gallup-Healthways first conducted the survey in 2008.
But not every pocket of America is sagging. To find out which metro areas have the sunniest dispositions, The Daily Beast first analyzed Gallup-Healthways’ data for more than 100 metro areas, accounting for 40 percent of a city’s final score.
Because happiness has been linked to employment, earnings, and even the weather, we also considered each of the following: unemployment rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; percentage of families earning more than $100,000, or approximately the top-earning quartile nationwide, according to census figures; and, where available, the number of clear days per year, according to the National Climatic Data Center.