Gallery: America's most miserable cities

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By Alexander E.M. Hess, Vince Calio and Thomas C. Frohlich, 24/7 Wall St.

To determine the well-being of Americans, Gallup-Healthways surveyed hundreds of thousands of Americans in 189 metropolitan areas in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013. The survey recorded the physical and emotional health of the residents, as well as financial, employment, and social indicators, among others. The resulting Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index allows for comparisons between places and over time.

In America’s most miserable cities, residents were less likely to be in good physical health and far more likely to report unhealthy behaviors. Residents in all of the nation’s 10 most miserable areas were more likely to smoke than the average American. In the second most miserable area, Charleston, West Virginia, slightly over 35% of people said they smoked — the worst rate in the nation.

While income wasn’t a direct measure in the index, differences in income were quite prominent between America’s most content and miserable areas. In each of the 10 cities with the lowest well-being scores, incomes were lower than the typical American household. In three of these metro areas -- including the worst-off metro area, the so-called Tri-State region of Huntington-Ashland, comprising parts of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio -- median household income was less than $40,000 in 2012.

Other economic factors played a part as well: The metro that scored third worst for overall well-being, Redding, California, has suffered high unemployment for years and still has an unemployment rate in the double digits. It's the only city west of Texas on the list.

Click on the image above to see America's most miserable cities. And to see America's happiest cities, visit

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