THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT
San Antonio earns depressing rank on list of happiest cities in the U.S.
Despite pandemic fatigue and vaccine frustrations, winter-storm woes, and anxiety about whether life will ever return to what we once knew as normal, ever resilient Texans have somehow struck a happy medium between misery and contentment in these weird days. But according to one recent report, San Antonians, in particular, are feeling pretty gloomy about life in the Alamo City.
WalletHub’s recently released report detailing 2021’s Happiest Cities in America — which compared 182 of the largest U.S. cities based on several happiness factors — ranked San Antonio near the bottom of the list, at No. 141, with an overall ranking of 48.61 out of 100.
In its effort to identify the largest U.S. cities that are home to the happiest people, WalletHub considered three key aspects of residents’ lives: emotional and physical well-being, income and employment, and community and environment.
In terms of emotional and physical well-being — a category that examines such factors as a city’s suicide rate, life expectancy, and COVID-19 cases and deaths — San Antonio received a ranking of 145th among the 182 cities. In the income and employment category, which considers components such as a city’s poverty and unemployment rates, income growth, and job satisfaction, San Antonio ranks slightly higher, at 89th, though in the community and environment category — which assesses each city’s number of public green spaces and weather, as well as its divorce rate, and the number of hate-crime incidents — San Antonio ranks 133rd among the 182 cities.
Perhaps the ranking isn’t a surprise, given the hindrances of life in 2021. In fact, the pandemic appears to be driving a good portion of the gloom many people are feeling of late, with the WalletHub report citing recent findings from the American Psychological Association that claim the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the average person’s stress to “increase significantly” for the first time since 2007.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of American life, from health and work to education and exercise,” the APA report notes, warning that in the long term, “the negative mental-health effects of the coronavirus will be serious and long-lasting.”
Something San Antonians may take solace in: Misery loves company, and, according to the WalletHub report, Texans are pretty bummed across the board. Laredo is the lowest-ranking Texas city on the list, at No. 161, while Plano, at No. 17, is the state's highest-ranking city in terms of happiness.
Austin, which has previously been lauded as one of the happiest cities in the U.S., landed at No. 27 on the new report, earning an overall score of 64.13 out of 100, a well-being score of 20, an employment score of 24, and a community and environment score of 94.
Dallas ranked No. 104 on the list, while Houston ranked No. 123. Other Texas cities ranked on the happiness list include Amarillo (No. 63), Grand Prairie (No. 70), Garland (No. 77), Fort Worth (No. 83), Irving (No. 85), Arlington (No. 102), Lubbock (No. 117), Brownsville (No. 125), El Paso (No. 128), and Corpus Christi (No. 127).
According to the report, the happiest city in the U.S. is the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fremont, California.