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Lincoln is happy

Lincoln topped 188 other metropolitan areas in the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which tallies scores in six measures of well-being.

It's official: Lincoln is the happiest place in the United States.

Lincoln topped 188 other metropolitan areas in the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which tallies scores in six measures of well-being.

Although one might assume that optimism surrounding the new Pinnacle Bank Arena, expansion of Memorial Stadium and development of Innovation Campus are what's making residents of Lincoln giddy, it's actually job satisfaction that put the city over the top.

Lincoln jumped from 118th in 2011 to first last year in the work environment category, making large improvements in all four categories measured: job satisfaction, getting to use one's strengths to do what one does best, collaborative relationships with bosses and being in trusting and open work environments.

The city also ranked high in the basic access category, which measures things such as clean air and water and access to health care. It ranked third in 2012, compared with 18th in 2011.

Lincoln had positive improvements from 2011 to 2012 for people visiting the dentist, feeling the city is getting to be a better place to live, feeling safe walking alone at night and being able to afford to buy food.

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall said she's not surprised Lincoln ranked high in job satisfaction, especially considering the city's low unemployment rate, which consistently is among the lowest in the country.

"You have a lot different outlook on life when you've got a job than when you don't," she said.

That being said, Birdsall also said she thinks other things going on in town are contributing to an overall sense of optimism.

"I do think there is a lot to the fact that there is a lot going on at the university and in the Haymarket and in Antelope Valley," she said.

Lincoln also posted high scores for physical health, 15th, and life evaluation, eighth. It scored lower in emotional health, 46th, and healthy behavior, 128th.

Nebraska as a whole also fared well in the survey, coming in at No. 7 among the states, up one spot from 2011. Among metropolitan areas, Omaha checked in at 27th.

Gallup surveyed 353,564 respondents ages 18 and older.

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Reach Matt Olberding at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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