Local counties top list of happiest places in the U.S.

WASHINGTON — Local counties in Virginia and Maryland top a list of the happiest places in the United States.

SmartAsset ranks Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Virginia, as well as Howard County, Maryland, in the top 10.

The company, which focuses on financial technology, says it collected data on every county in the country with at least 50,000 residents. It looked at eight metrics that reflect four factors to determine a region’s quality of life: family stability; physical health; personal financial health; and economic security.

Loudoun County came out at the very top of the list, with a calculated life expectancy of 82.6 years, an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent and a physical activity rate of 59.65 percent. According to SmartAsset, the population in the county has grown from around 90,000 in 1990 to more than 310,000 residents today.

Fairfax County ranked third, with a higher life expectancy (83.1 years) and a higher physical activity rate (62.85 percent), but also a higher poverty rate.

Howard County, Maryland is seventh on the list, with a life expectancy of 81.7 years and an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. SmartAsset said that just 4.6 percent of the county’s population lives below the poverty line.

Arlington, Virginia also snagged a spot at No. 22 on the list.

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