Thread: America's Most Miserable Cities
#1 America's Most Miserable Cities03-17-2010, 10:11 AM
Cleveland leads a slew of Midwestern towns on our annual list, but thanks to high taxes New York and Chicago make it too.
The city of Cleveland has had a colorful history. The Cuyahoga River, which runs through the city, famously caught fire in 1969 thanks to rampant pollution, and it wasn't the first time. In 1978 it became the first U.S. city to default on its debts since the Great Depression. Cleveland sports fans have had to endure more anguish than those in any other city. The city has been dubbed with a less than endearing nickname: the Mistake by the Lake.
This year Cleveland takes the top spot in our third annual ranking of America's Most Miserable Cities. Cleveland secured the position thanks to its high unemployment, high taxes, lousy weather, corruption by public officials and crummy sports teams (Cavaliers of the NBA excepted).
Misery was on the rise around the country last year. Sure the stock market was up big, but so were unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcy filings. Meanwhile housing prices, the U.S. dollar and approval ratings for Congress continued their downward spiral.
The widely tracked Misery Index initiated by economist Arthur Okun, which combines unemployment and inflation rates started 2009 at 7.3 and rose to 12.7 by the end of the year thanks to soaring joblessness. That is the highest level since 1983.
Our Misery Measure takes into account unemployment, as well as eight other issues that cause people anguish. The metrics include taxes (both sales and income), commute times, violent crime and how its pro sports teams have fared over the past two years. We also factored in two indexes put together by Portland, Ore., researcher Bert Sperling that gauge weather and Superfund pollution sites. Lastly we considered corruption based on convictions of public officials in each area as tracked by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
We expanded the list of cities under consideration this year to include the 200 largest metropolitan statistical areas (in years past we've examined 150), which led to a shuffling in the ranks. Any area with a population of more than 245,000 was eligible.
Cleveland nabbed the top spot as a result of poor ratings across the board. It was the only city that fell in the bottom half of the rankings in all nine categories. Many residents are heading for greener pastures. There has been a net migration out of the Cleveland metro area of 71,000 people over the past five years. Population for the city itself has been on a steady decline and is now less than half of it what it was 50 years ago.
Cleveland ranked near the bottom when looking at corruption. Northern Ohio has seen 309 public officials convicted of crimes over the past 10 years according to the Justice Department. A current FBI investigation of public officials in Cuyahoga County (where Cleveland is located) has ensnared more than two dozen government employees and businessmen on charges including bribery, fraud and tax evasion.
CONTINUED WITH PICTURES, LIST, and VIDEOStand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
03-17-2010, 10:23 AM
Detroit is ahead of Flint?
03-17-2010, 10:30 AM
Haven't most of those places been run by Democrats for decades?
03-17-2010, 10:38 AM
And I didn't realize that Ohio was so crappy. Especially Canton which I went there last year and thought it was rather nice but I don't live there so what do I know.The Obama Administration: Deny. Deflect. Blame.
03-17-2010, 12:31 PM
There are deeper issues involved than party politics, at least when it comes to Detroit. When the white people left, they took the money and wealth with them. Everyone thinks the problems in the auto industry started in the last decade, but they really started in the late 70s and early 80s, which complicated the issues resulting from the white abandonment of the city.
I can't speak to other cities' issues, because I didn't witness what happened first hand like I did with Detroit. It's easy for white people to blame blacks or politicians. The jobs and wealth went to the suburbs with them. It's easy to sit from a comfortable home in Southfield and say "look at what they've done to Detroit, which used to be our city". It's a "we've got ours, f-you" attitude, and it's not what this country is supposed to be about.
I'm not saying that the people who took over leadership of the city bear no blame whatsoever, but there are two sides to every story. To say that poverty and race are not connected in this country is to live in denial. To blame solely the black poor for their situation is heartless and cruel, and just makes the division even worse. It isn't fair to "blame whitey" either, but as long as everyone plays the blame game, nothing will ever be changed. This is an issue that I have seen from both sides, as someone who's Detroit relatives all ran out in the early 70s and someone who lived in the city from 1989 to 2001.
03-17-2010, 12:39 PM
You can make the argument that people who stayed were either entrepreneurial geniuses or incapable of adapting to new economic circumstances.
03-17-2010, 02:30 PM
Another good question is - WHY? Why did they fee from cities like Detriot? Taxes and crime are generally the culprits.Stand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
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