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Tacoma ranks as most stressful U.S. city

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1. Tacoma
2. Miami
3. New Orleans
4. Las Vegas
5. New York
6. Portland
7. Mobile, Alabama
8. Stockton-Lodi, California
9. Detroit
10. Dallas
Source: The Associated Press
New York
Miami (Florida)
United States
What is the biggest stress factor?
Fear of crime

SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) -- Move over New York, take a hike Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Dallas and Detroit. You may have stress but none of you have that rare combination of suicide, unemployment, theft and gloomy weather that Tacoma, Washington, has.

The city of 195,000 just 30 miles south of Seattle was named America's most stressful city in a survey published Friday.

Tacoma ranked at the top of 100 large metro areas surveyed by the BestPlaces ranking researcher, which also took into account other factors such as commute times, alcohol consumption and self-reported mental health.

"America leads the world in stressful living," said Bert Sperling, who runs Portland, Oregon, based BestPlaces, "The average vacation time in Europe is five weeks a year but our attitude is almost 'Thank God it's Monday"'

The city where convicted Washington, D.C. area sniper John Muhammad lived is home to large blue-collar and military populations. "On a brighter note, Tacomans can feel safe from bodily harm thanks to the low violent crime rate," Sperling wrote in his report.

High violent crime put Miami second on the list of most stressful cities, in addition to high property crime, long commutes, high unemployment and a high divorce rate.

The third most stressful U.S. city was New Orleans, despite being known as the "Big Easy," followed by Las Vegas, which had the highest suicide and divorce rates in the study, and New York, which boasted the longest commute times.

The sixth most stressful city was Portland, followed by Mobile, Alabama, Stockton-Lodi in California, Detroit and Dallas. Sperling, whose BestPlaces ranking is published yearly by Money magazine, said he used publicly available census, crime, weather and health data to create a "stress index" in order to rank the cities.

"One of the key factors was the unemployment rate, but we also used the suicide rate -- that's the ultimate unhappiness factor," Sperling said.

The study also produced the least stressful cities in the United States, which all share low unemployment rates, as well as short commutes, lower divorce rates, less crime and lower suicide rates.

The multiple-city enclaves of Albany-Schenectady-Troy in New York and Harrisburg-Lebanon-Carlisle in Pennsylvania tied for the least stressful metropolitan areas.

Other metro areas with less stress included Orange County, California, Nassau-Suffolk in New York, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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