Why is Tampa Bay metro area so down in Gallup's national look at well-being?
Wake up and good morning. My, we're a glum bunch these days in Tampa Bay. Among the nation's 52 largest metropolitan areas that Gallup surveyed in 2009 for overall well-being, Tampa Bay ranked almost last -- just ahead of dead-last Las Vegas and Providence, R.I. -- and tied with fellow Florida metro area Jacksonville. In fact, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami gave the state of Florida the negative distinction of having three large metro areas in the bottom 10 in well-being for the year.
This, uh, depressing revelation appears in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index™ which was developed to help measure health and well-being. Gallup calls the index "the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to measure what people believe constitutes a good life."
If that's so, Florida and Tampa Bay need a happy pill. Quick. If this ranking is correct, Florida and especially Tampa Bay are in a serious funk that probably needs to come out in the open, just as someone with depression is helped by talking about it. Look for yourself.
So what does this mean? The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score measures for each city an average of six sub-indexes, which individually examine life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. The overall composite score and each of the six sub-indexes' scores are calculated on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 represents fully realized well-being. Gallup and Healthways initiated the Well-Being Index in January 2008.
So where does Tampa Bay stand? Of the six sub-indexes that comprise the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Tampa Bay had the lowest score and Washington, D.C., had the highest score on the life evaluation index.
Ouch, In other words, that index reflects Gallup asking people to evaluate their present and future lives on a scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst possible life and 10 is the best possible life. Those who rate today a "7" or higher and the future an "8" or higher are considered to be "thriving." Those who rate today and the future a "4" or lower on the scale are considered to be "suffering."
Baby, we're suffering. So if we're so down in the dumps, which metro areas are awash in well-being? read and (sorry) weep:
San Jose and Minneapolis had the highest scores on two indexes (physical health and healthy behaviors in San Jose and emotional health and basic access in Minneapolis). Raleigh had the top score in the work environment index, which was anchored by Cleveland at the bottom.
Among smaller metro areas, the Naples-Marco Island area in Florida did pretty well. Here's Gallup's complete ranking of smaller metro areas.
Among states, Hawaii enjoyed the highest well-being. Florida was not among the 10 worst states, but it was close. Here are the complete state rankings.
So, readers, why do you think Tampa Bay and Florida are so bummed compared to other places? Is it just the economy? The lack of vision? The lack of decent jobs? And what might we do about it?
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist