SCRANTON — Feeling a little down in the dumps?
Chances are you are not alone, according to a new study.
According to the analysis, co-authored by Joshua Gottlieb of the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton region is the least happiest place in the United States.
Local psychologist Robert Griffin says there no need for a region-wide prescription for anti-depressants.
“I wouldn’t take it too seriously,” said Griffin, who had not seen the study. “But at the same time, there are a lot of issues in the area that I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Griffin said happiness is not only hard to measure, but added that there are many forms of happiness. Identifying happiness is not an easy task, and identifying opposite ends of the spectrum is the easier task, according to Griffin.
Greater Scranton isn’t the only place in Pennsylvania to make the list. Johnstown ranked in at No. 6 of the least happy American regions, while Pittsburgh was ranked No. 2 among the top 10 unhappiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million as of 2010.
Bryan Boote commented on The Times Leader’s Facebook page, attributing the region’s unhappiness to a lack of job opportunities or progressive industries. He also said local municipalities are behind the times and called for stronger leadership.
“Given that we have the least efficient leadership structure in the country, the apple doesn’t far to far from the tree,” Boote said. “Poor attitudes and unhappy people don’t really help productivity or growth in the community.”
It’s no secret that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton region has faced a number of tribulations over the past several years, and that may have played a role in the region’s unhappiness — legitimate reasons for unhappiness, Griffin noted, despite his skepticism with the report.
Among such issues in Luzerne County:
• Last year was the deadliest year for Wilkes-Barre, with a record-breaking 13 homicides.
• Luzerne County in the past decade was rocked by the infamous “Kids for Cash” scandal that unveiled corruption that plagued the county’s judicial system, with some litigation still active into 2014. A movie with the same name about the abuse of power by a now-jailed county judge is playing internationally.
• The Luzerne County Transportation Authority made headlines this year as top executives were accused of conspiring to falsely inflate senior ridership data to receive grants from PennDOT.
Lackawanna County also has seen its share of scandal in recent years, with two former county commissioners sent to jail in a corruption case.
And one of downtown Scranton’s most prominent developments, The Mall at Steamtown, continues to teeter on the brink of disaster.
Steamtown Mall Partners LP were handed foreclosure notices after defaulting on a million-dollar loan payment earlier this week. The Scranton mall failed to make a payment on its original $90 million loan, which was down to about $38 million now.
Griffin said “impediments” in the region could affect the happiness of citizens. Nevertheless, he said happiness and attitudes can be changed.
“Hopefully, people take away that they have more control over their happiness that they realize,” Griffin said.