Where Are America’s Most Optimistic Cities?

More than half of Americans say they are hopeful about their hometowns. But which area tops the list?

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The future is nothing but blue skies and rose-colored glasses for a handful of hopeful hometowns in the U.S. But which metropolis is the most optimistic? According to data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released on Tuesday, Provo-Orem, Utah topped the charts, followed closely by Lafayette, La.; Raleigh-Cary, N.C.; and Huntsville, Ala.

According to the survey, which is based on interviews with more than 350,000 adults across 190 U.S. metro areas, 76% of residents of Provo-Orem say they are optimistic about their city’s future. Overall, more than half of Americans say the same about their hometowns, Reuters reports. But just because they’re hopeful doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “satisfied.” According to Gallup, only three metro areas on the optimism list — Provo-Orem, Raleigh-Cary and Des Moines, Iowa — also landed on the list of the top 10 cities for overall satisfaction, released early last week.

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It’s hard to say exactly what causes some cities to be upbeat, but Gallup reports some telling crossover between the top 10 optimistic metro areas and Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities Index for 2011. Seven out of the 10 most hopeful areas also appear among the Milken Institute’s top 25 metro areas, which ranks U.S. cities based on technology growth, salaries and employment. The Atlantic notes that a community’s aesthetics can also contribute to satisfaction, especially when accompanied by economic security, strong schools and social interaction.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, residents of Binghamton, N.Y., seem to be the most pessimistic, with only 28% of residents reporting a positive outlook on the area’s future. Gallup warns that in some cases, the combination of low optimism and relatively low satisfaction can put a city in a rut. Binghamton along with Flint, Rockford, Ill., and Huntington-Ashland, W.Va, rank in the bottom 10 of both listings.

How hopeful is your hometown? Check the full report to see if your city made it into the top 10.

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