The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has identified 2 Upstate New York cities as being among the "loneliest" in the entire country.

The Epidemic of Loneliness

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United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently declared loneliness a health crisis. According to Census data, 37 million Americans - which is roughly 30 percent of households in the country - live alone. That's an increase of about 5 million Americans from a decade ago.

The pandemic is believed to have a role in the skyrocketing numbers. Said the Bureau:

Year-over-year, the number of Americans living alone has increased by 1.1 million, according to the Census Bureau [...] Overall, the number of Americans living alone has increased by 2.4 million since 2019.

Health experts say a lack of human connection can lead to mental health challenges and even death.

To address this growing crisis, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce identified the cities with the largest number of people living alone.

In the end, two cities in Upstate New York made the cut.

New York's Loneliest Cities

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When identifying the "loneliest" cities, Washington, D.C. had the largest share of isolated individuals, with nearly 50 percent of residents living in one-person households. Birmingham, AL, and St. Louis, MO, rounded out the top 3.

New York made its first appearance in 14th place. Buffalo was found to have over 51,000 single-person households, which is roughly 41% of the population.

A few spots under Buffalo was the city of Rochester in 18th place. About 40% of its total population lives in one-person households, which comes down to 37,775 residents living alone.

The total populations of both Buffalo and Rochester are, respectively, 122,578 and 92,415.

 NY Among States with the Most Male Residents Living Alone

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The report also broke down cities based on gender.

Both cities had a very high number of men living alone, with Rochester coming in 7th place, overall, while Buffalo finished in 11th.

About 25 percent of Rochester's male population lives by themselves while 23.7 percent of Buffalo's male population live solo.

When looking at the cities' female populations, only Buffalo placed high on the list. The city was found to have the 17th largest population of women living alone, which amounted to roughly 24 percent of the city's female population.

Living Alone = Lonely?

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The Chamber acknowledged there are Americans who live alone by choice and that there are some "benefits" that come with independent living, but the report is meant to highlight those who didn't willingly choose that lifestyle.

The report warned:

According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults who live alone can face higher risks of loneliness as well as depression, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s.

Current estimates say a third of Americans aged 45 and older experience loneliness while about a quarter of adults over the age of 65 are considered socially isolated.

The U.S. Surgeon General noted how the "epidemic of loneliness" has eroded individual and societal health. Dr. Murthy is concerned this trend will impact life expectancy and the overall health of the nation.

Read More: New Study Warns More Americans Are Sleeping 5 Hours or Less

He hopes to prioritize loneliness as a public health issue in the same way obesity and substance use disorders are handled.

His research found:

The physical health consequences of poor or insufficient connection include a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults. Additionally, lacking social connection increases risk of premature death by more than 60%.

Those who live alone are twice as likely to develop depression versus individuals who live with others. The repercussions are worse for children, who are more likely to develop long-lasting anxiety and depression.

The belief is that by working toward building a more connected society, it would have a positive influence on addressing the mental health crisis in America.

You can read more about the Surgeon General's report HERE.

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