Among America’s so-called most miserable cities, Rockford is something of a rarity


Our beloved Rockford’s status as one of America’s lowest-ranked cities by certain measures is different from most of the others in one regard: Ours is a blue state.

As we see HERE, so-called miserable cities are more commonly found in red states:

Gallup released the results of their annual “Well-Being” poll last week, and revealed that nine of the United States’ 11 most unhappy metropolitan areas are located in Red States, and eight are located in the South. In general, western, midwestern, and northeastern states scored highest on the well-being index, and southern states scored the lowest. This should come as no surprise to political junkies, considering that red states — southern red states in particular — favor conservative policies that tend to increase poverty and encourage discrimination, and that poverty and discrimination have a tendency to make people miserable.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score averages respondent’s ratings for various factors that contribute to happiness and well-being, including:  emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. The lowest possible score is 0, and the highest possible score is 100.



  1. Except IL, CA, and NY are blue states. By my count, that would make 8 of 11 in red states.

  2. Diane: You’re right. The authors of the article miscounted.

    But the overall point is pretty much the same. Red states still have the lion’s share of the most miserable cities..

  3. Expdoc

    And as you have pointed out many times before, red states receive more than their share of federal dollars. Apparently more government spending does nothing to reduce the misery index.

  4. No, doc. It means that red states generally are more poorly governed. Those states leech off us blue states, and they still screw things up.

    Notice, too, this line from the article above: “In general, western, midwestern, and northeastern states scored highest on the well-being index, and southern states scored the lowest.”

    Stupid rednecks!

  5. Craig Knauss


    When it comes to federal spending, particularly for facilities like DOD, DOE, etc., they receive a ton of federal money. However, that money doesn’t seem to travel very far through the home state. I’m not sure why. Hanford Site gets over $2 billion per year. The immediate area is pretty well off. However, one doesn’t have to travel far to see the falloff in economic benefit. (My guess about 75-100 miles.) Outside of that ring you would see wealthy farmers and ranchers and poor (many undocumented) workers. (The wealth doesn’t spread very far from Idaho National Lab either.) That’s true for a lot of the large government installations.

  6. Robert

    Rockford is a miserable place. Rockford used to be a nice place but its not anymore and it saddens me. Because my memories of its Norman Rockwell paintings type lifestyle are being destroyed. All the happy talk or skewing of perceptions from Forbes or any other outfits that label Rockford as it does, is just another person in denial. I’ve visited my hometown 3 times in the past 3 years. Every time I come back I notice more decay, not to mention the violent gang activity that has taken over the city that I read about almost daily online. Last fall when I was visiting, my brother and we were at the corner of Broadway and Kishwaukie waiting to turn L onto Kishwaukie. I saw two young males walk around the corner onto Broadway. I distinctly heard from the car next to me, “put the gun down” as the driver was saying to the person in the passenger seat as the two young males walked by their car. I’ve read a lot about the violence in Rockford and then found myself in a situation that could have very easily escalated. The thugs have taken over 3/4 of the inner city. I’ve heard gun shots on several occasions while I was sleeping and since my bedroom (when I’m visiting) is in the front of the house, it concerns me that a bullet some day could come into my room as I’m sleeping. That’s not something I would have ever thought possible growing up in the neighborhood I did back when. The Rolling Green area is becoming just as bad as the west side. It’s a very hard subject to broach, because there are many good people in the Black community, but I’m not going to hold anything back. Rockford has a problem with Black gang activity just like Chicago. Ignoring it, avoiding discussion of it because it involves racial dialogue is not going to make it go away. Saying its not as bad as some think, is extreme denial. There’s a reason why property is so cheap in Rockford.

  7. swampy

    I find it laughable trying to give any link to a silly opinion/entertainment piece like the most miserable cities list to politics.

  8. “No, doc. It means that red states generally are more poorly governed.”

    Where is the evidence of that Pat? Correlation does not imply causation, any idiot knows that. I would just once like to see you use statistically sound research in one of your diary entries. Gallup is a good source, but they mention nothing of causation. You have no proof that red states are more miserable because they are governed poorly. In fact, that is a ridiculous statement considering Gallup listed cities that are miserable, not states.

  9. Expdoc

    Aaron nails it.

  10. truth hurts

    Shhh aaron and doc don’t ask pat to use or provide honest facts.

    It just anger him and causes him to yell, rant and spew bs that makes blare from the exorcist movie look tame.

    But I do admit it is funny to watch/read.

  11. Robert

    I thought this thread was about Rockford and its misery index, not about red states vs blue states.

  12. Robert

    As I was saying in my initial comment about Rockford and its misery. How long did I have to wait to get a current story that fit into my above commentary.


  13. Brian Opsahl

    Rockford like many manufacturing city’s are paying the price for losing all there work to foreign competition. Those good paying jobs are gone and when that happens it is a slow downward spiral towards crime and gang violence that is playing out across America, not just Rockford, but the entire Nation in town after town this is going on.

    All those machining jobs that Rockford was known for are also gone. When i got out of high school (Jefferson) they had training for just about anything in that field you wanted and then you could go out and easly find good paying jobs, now you woould be lucky to find work at the fastfood joints paying minimum wages.

    Robert you picked one of the worst areas of Rockford to give an example of, that intersection has been bad since I was a kid back in the 70 and 80s so your giving the wrong impressions by saying that. of course thats a bad area it’s been that way forever.

  14. Robert

    Brian, open your eyes. That area has not always been bad. In the 70s and 80s, my mother worked just down the street from there on Kishwaukie, at a small mfg plant. It was a safe area. That whole area was, especially around the Prince Castle Ice Cream place all the way to J L Clark was a wholesome place to raise a family. It was an area where many of the Swedes and Norwegians settled, just like South Rockford was for the Italian and Polish communities. It’s now in an state of decay. The roads are terrible and crime likewise. Rolling Green and the areas between Kishwaukie and Alpine Rd, East State and Sandy Hollow, was also a wholesome area. Not now. Gun shots and drive bys are common and so is theft, burglary and robberies. .We never had that to any measurable degree when I was growing up and attending Jefferson High on Ohio Pwky. 7th St and Broadway were upstanding business districts. House of Lindberg was on Broadway and many other fine retail businesses. You didn’t much higher standard of furnishings than them in Rockford. My aunt owned a liquor store on 7th until she died in the early 90s. The 7th St Sweet Shop was a favorite of my dads when I was a kid. Open your eyes. Rockford is dying and its crime ridden. I agree, the mfg base was lost when they moved offshore. And yes, this happening to all mfg towns like Rockford. But I’m talking about Rockford. You still live there. You live with the day to day violence and crime and become numb to it because like I said, its a very difficult subject to talk about because the majority (not all but the majority) of the violent crime is being done by a specific gang element in Rockford. People want to say poverty is the problem, but it is deeper than that. You don’t see it as someone who comes back to visit and sees the ongoing decay that gets worse with each visit. Rockford was a beautiful wholesome town in its day. I am saddened by its plight. The reason Rockford doesn’t get better is the violent crime being inflicted on business owners and its citizens and the decay in what were once very livable and safe neighborhoods. Like I said, there’s a reason the property values are so low. There’s a reason people are moving to the outer NE sections of town or leaving Rockford all together. What do you think that is? All the happy talk or denial isn’t going to begin the changes that need to happen. Rockford needs money to re-energize its once well patronized neighborhood business districts and to severely reduce the crime element so people will feel safe to patronize those districts. Tell the city, state and federal leaders, you and the other civilized citizens of all colors of Rockford want some of that money that Chicago gets… It’s Rockford’s turn. Don’t let the gang mentality take over.

  15. Robert

    PS – I have seen signs of the Latino community trying to upgrade the South Rockford area. I applaud their intentions and wish the best of success to their efforts.

  16. Brian Opsahl

    Robert your guessing about me and implying many thing’s here.
    First of all I to went to all those places, my favorite was the old maidrite cafe but by the early 80s it was already changed down there, I know this personally (i was attacted on 7th street in 81 by a street gang.
    I moved out of Rockford when my kids got to school age and i watched guys like Ted Biando destroy the tax base and run everybody that could afford to leave …did. All my neighbors moved from Rockford at the same time for the same reasons.

    This is where the mass exit from Rockford started lets be honest..folks either moved north to Rocton Roscoe or south to Stillman Valley or Byron.

  17. Robert

    Brian, Were on the same page. I would like to see more people post on this thread. Change begins when people talk and organize.

  18. Brian Opsahl

    Yes Rockford has many bad areas but it also has it’s good sides your making it out to be a war zone witch is not true at all. I work and play there all the time i go to meetings downtown every week and i haven’t seen nor heard even one gunshot ever. I have seen a man get shot on the streets of Chicago…my favorite City to visit.

    We still have Capri pizza downtown great parks,many Churchs the District is a pretty good place to go. Again your over playing the decay part..thats my opinion

  19. Brian Opsahl

    Agreed, Me to

  20. Robert

    Bryan, it is a war zone in a majority of the town known as Rockford.. Two weeks ago and husband and wife were shot through their window as they slept. 20+ bullets were pumped into the house. No motive has been established to my knowledge. That house isn’t too far from where I sleep when I visit. Just last nite, another man was shot as he slept. There’s other recent incidents too in that Rolling Green neighborhood and over by the projects on the other side of Harrison, which are the latest neighborhoods to become part of ” the hood”. I read about the NW section by Northtown and the Rockton Ave area and all the crime going on there..My grandparents lived in that area and left there door open all day without an incident occurring. It was never a crime zone like it is now. Should I mention the Auburn St crime zone. A guy I went to school with was murdered at a gas station about a year ago by some young gang members, not to mention all the crime since and before.. I used to drive to Amerock in the 70s…who’d have thought that neighborhood would become what it has? When I drive down Broadway and especially going past 20th St towards Kishwaukie, another war zone and many of the bldgs along the way look like a slum. How about that area around Woodruff and 9th St and all the surrounding area… a war zone. The only area that seems untouched by constant criminal activity for now is the outer NE quadrant from about Guilford/Park Ave and to the north… but for how long.. Rockford is a war zone. I don’t care how many nice parks you got… its a war zone… that’s the ugly truth that nobody in the leadership of that city will go on record as saying… I’ve only noted just a few of the many many incidents of violent crime that occur regularly in these areas… It wasn’t that way in the past… there’s always going to be a certain amount of criminal element, but its out of control for now… the gangs run that town.

  21. Brian Opsahl

    Again, your reading one thing and I live another. these are bad neighborhoods that’s for sure.
    Again I drive down these roads every single day…not one bullet have i ever witnessed nor heard.
    Where is it you live sir..?

  22. Robert

    I don’t live anywhere near Rockford…. But I don’t have to live there to know its a war zone…I can read the stories and see first hand when I visit…I know the general make up of the city and the areas that are mentioned. It’s a small town for the high crime rate you have. When I was home a couple years back, I’d been driving down Kishwaukie St between Broadway and the Charles St area. A few days later I read a story about gun shots being fired at cars in that same area… so I didn’t witness it personally but I thought, jeez, I wasre just there not to long ago.. i bet there’s people in Chicago’s high crime areas that can make the claim you do to but that doesn’t negate the fact the areas are crime ridden… My visit last fall (as noted in my first post) was the closest I’ve come to a potential violent incident that didn’t come to pass, but the ingredients were there. I’m grateful that I didn’t experience the actual thing.

    Why did you leave Rockford for an outlying area not far from Rockford? I left many decades ago as a young man, just because that’s what many people do when they’re young and from a small town. It was a great decision. But I always enjoyed coming home to visit. I can’t say Rockford has got better and I’m saddened by what has happened to it.

    Brian, its a war zone. You’re just numb as you’ve become accustomed to the environment.

  23. Robert

    Brian, why aren’t there more people commenting here? I read the stories about people and their frustrations about the crime that has taken over their neighborhoods, and I read about the people who think Rockford has many great qualities ( I do to, but they’re being overridden by the high crime areas that are only getting worse). Why is the conversation just between you and me? I wish more people would contribute their perspectives.

  24. Brian Opsahl

    Robert, time of day your posting IDK. the person to ask is Pat he would have alot more insight to that question.
    The reason i asked where your living is you have me at a dissatvatage from arguing standpoint. How can you say that stuff knowing I live here now and you just visit once a year, when I would like to compare the areas your talking about…?

  25. Robert

    I think I’ve done quite well at justifying my opinions and observations. A person doesn’t have to live in Detroit to know its in a state of decay, just like Rockford. If Rockford wants to change the perceptions of outsiders, they will have to stop reporting all the violent crime. Then let the people visit and see it was all just happy talk. The crime rate and the corresponding property values speak for themselves, not to mention all the urban blight. It’s a sad story. Believe me, I wish it was better for Rockford. I’d like to move back (well, I thought I did, but besides the crime and the urban decay, I don’t really want to deal with snow in my advancing age). I could swear I read somewhere that Cheap Trick wanted to create a museum, but wanted to put it in Chicago or somewhere other than Rockford. That says a lot.

  26. Brian Opsahl

    No, I happen to know alot about that cheap trick deal, it had more to do with financial backing and banks…it’s not going in Chicago either..same reasons.
    If your not going to answer my questions why should i answer your’s …?

    Again it’s not what you think I live here, work here, play here, but stay out of the BAD neighbor hoods…as you probably do where you live now…Right..!

  27. I agree with a lot of what Brian and Robert have posted. Here is my take on my disgustingly un-accepting home town of Rockford: Not all of Rockford’s Westside is bad, some areas have homes that only the rich can afford (some of the homes adjacent to Montague going south towards highway 2 towards Byron, very nice homes). I think when you say Westside you are thinking of majority black neighborhoods, and then you would be right. There are many factors that attribute to areas being violent, we would have to hold a round-table discussion to get down to the what’s really causing the violence.

  28. I just wanted to take this moment to say, I think one of the most positive things going for Rockford right now is the Facebook page, Rockford Rocked. I enjoy reading the post, seeing peoples name I recognize and all the nostalgia that it presents. As I get older, I tend to look back more than I do forward. https://www.facebook.com/rockfordrocked?hc_location=stream

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