America’s Most Miserable Cities

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Via: Forbes Magazine

#1 Detroit, Mich.

Violent crime in the Detroit metro was down 5% in 2011, but it remains the highest in the country with 1,052 violent crimes per 100,000 people, according to the FBI. Home prices were off 35% the past 3 years, which is the biggest drop in the U.S.

#2 Flint, Mich.

Flint has been demolishing homes as the city shrinks with residents leaving in search of jobs. Only Detroit has a higher net out-migration rate. Flint ranks third worst for violent crime, behind Detroit and Memphis.

#3 Rockford, Ill.

A three decade decline in the manufacturing base has hurt Rockford’s economy and kept unemployment high. The metro’s recent 11.2% unemployment rate is one of the highest rates in the U.S. Another burden: high property tax rates.

#4 Chicago, Ill.

Chicago has passionate supporters, but residents must endure the misery of long commutes, plummeting home prices, brutal winters and high foreclosure rates. The migration rate out of Chicago is the sixth worst among the 200 largest metros.

#5 Modesto, Calif.

Foreclosures continue to plague Modesto with 6,859 foreclosure filings in 2012, according to RealtyTrac. It represents 3.8% of homes, which is the third highest rate in the U.S. Recent unemployment was 15%.

#6 Vallejo, Calif.

The city finally emerged from bankruptcy at the end of 2011 after nearly 3 years. Problems remain with high levels of foreclosures and unemployment.

#7 Warren, Mich.

Troy and Farmington Hills are part of the government-defined Warren metro division. Like Detroit, the Warren metro has seen home prices collapse–off 53% the past five years.

#8 Stockton, Calif.

Stockton became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy protection last year. The city is burdened with the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. and ranks among the five worst for unemployment and crime.

#9 Lake County, Ill.

The Chicago suburb is one of the richest counties in the U.S., as measured by per capita income. But home prices are down 29% over the past 5 years. Other drawbacks: long commutes and lousy weather.

 

#10 New York, N.Y.

Taxes are always a hot button issue in New York, whether it revolves around banks paying their share (rally above) or the taxes that residents face, which are the highest in the U.S. New Yorkers also rank first when it comes to the longest commutes.

 

#11 Toledo, Ohio

Job growth has been anemic in Toledo and residents are voting with their feet by leaving the city. The net migration rate out of the city was the nation’s fourth highest behind Detroit, Flint and Cleveland.

 

#12 St. Louis, Mo.

St. Louis and Detroit are the only two metros to rank in the bottom 50% in each of the nine metrics of misery we considered. St. Louis’ worst scores are on net migration.

#13 Camden, N.J.

New statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau labelled Camden the most impoverished city in the U.S. with 42.5% of residents living below the poverty line.

#14 Milwaukee, Wisc.

Winter weather in Milwaukee can be brutal with average lows of 13 degrees in January. Property tax rates also rank among the highest in the U.S.

 

#15 Atlantic City, NJ

In 2010, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the gambling mecca and proclaimed: “Atlantic City is dying.” Casino revenues have been in a downward spiral, which contributed to a recent unemployment rate of 14.4%.

 

#16 Atlanta, Ga.

The housing crisis hit Atlanta hard with home prices off 42% since 2007 and foreclosure rates among the highest in the U.S. Another misery for Atlanta residents: traffic.

#17 Cleveland, Ohio

Only Detroit and Flint have had a faster exodus rate out of the city than Cleveland over the past 3 years.

 

#18 Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Poughkeepsie residents must endure crummy weather and long commutes to work. Their average commute of 31.9 minutes is the sixth highest in the U.S. Property tax rates are also onerous.

 

#19 Gary, Ind.

Gary was called the murder capital of the U.S. in the 1990s, but violent crime is down dramatically in Gary in recent years. It is still plagued by high foreclosures and a migration out of the city.

#20 Youngstown, OH

The scrapyard above is in the spot of what once was one of the busiest steel mills in the U.S. Youngstown has been trying to recover since the exodus of steel began 25 years ago. There has been a net migration of residents out of Youngstown for 21 straight years.

 

We looked at the 200 largest metropolitan statistical areas and divisions in the U.S. to determine America’s Most Miserable Cities. The minimum population to be eligible was 259,000. We ranked each area on 9 factors, including average unemployment rate between 2010 and 2012; median commute times to work for 2011 based on U.S. Census data; violent crimes per capita from the FBI’s 2011 Uniform Crime Report.

We included three housing metrics: the change in median home prices between 2009 and 2012; foreclosure rates in 2012, as compiled by RealtyTrac; and property tax rates based on median real estate taxes paid and median home values in 2011 per the U.S. Census. We factored in income tax rates and the weather in each metro on factors relating to temperature, precipitation and humidity. The data metrics are weighted equally in the final scoring.

We tweaked the methodology in this year’s list in response to feedback from readers, dropping our rankings of both pro sports team success and political.

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