New York is the "unhappiest" city in the US but its population continues to grow as people relocate for better job opportunities, a survey has revealed.

Released by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, along with the University of British Columbia's Vancouver School of Economics, the researchers asked respondents about their satisfaction with life, often used to indicate their happiness levels.

Control factors such as race, education, marital status and family size were also included in the study.

The results showed that New York, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Milwaukee and Detroit are America's least happy cities, followed by Indianapolis, St Louis, Las Vegas, Buffalo and Philadelphia.

"Our research indicates that people care about more than happiness alone, so other factors may encourage them to stay in a city despite their unhappiness," said UBC researcher Joshua Gottlieb, as reported by Headlines & Global News.

"This means that researchers and policymakers should not consider an increase in reported happiness as an overriding objective," he added.

The study gave specific reasons for the unhappiness, such as rent increases, winter blues and stress.

Despite this, the study also revealed that people continue to relocate to unhappy cities for better job opportunities or lower housing prices.

Researchers also found that long-term residents of such cities were just as unhappy as new residents.

"People have many goals in life beyond pure happiness. Parents choose to have children, even though that lowers measured happiness," Gottlieb told New York Magazine.

"They may move to a less happy city because it provides a more fulfilling job, or has other attributes that enrich their lives in other ways. It suggests that people have deeper preferences than hedonic pleasure, and can consciously make complicated tradeoffs."

Top 10 happiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million (as of 2010):

1. Richmond-Petersburg, VA

2. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA

3. Washington, DC

4. Raleigh-Durham, NC

5. Atlanta, GA

6. Houston, TX

7. Jacksonville, FL

8. Nashville, TN

9. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL

10. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ

Top 10 unhappiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million (as of 2010):

1. New York, NY

2. Pittsburgh, PA

3. Louisville, KY

4. Milwaukee, WI

5. Detroit, MI

6. Indianapolis, IN

7. St. Louis, MO

8. Las Vegas, NV

9. Buffalo, NY

10. Philadelphia, PA