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Question Of The Day: Can You Name America’s Most Miserable City?
February 23, 2013
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Okay, take a moment - think about as many cities as you can in the United States. Now, if you had to pick, which one do you think is the most miserable?

Well, according to Forbes magazine, it's the motor city - Detroit, Michigan.

Forbes has put together a misery index, which looks at a series of factors for the 200 largest metro areas in the U.S.

Those factors include violent crime, unemployment, foreclosures, taxes (income and property), home prices, commute times, weather, net migration.

With that last one, Forbes says it's "a clear gauge of whether or not residents feel a community is worth living in."

So, how did Detroit end up number one?

Well, Forbes says it's dealing with high levels of violent crime (the highest in America) and high levels of unemployment.

And housing prices are the lowest they've ever been - having dropped 35% in the past three years.


Not only that, but the city is in major financial trouble - it can't pay its bills and is close to being taken over by the state.

All of that means that more and more people are leaving Detroit, so the city isn't taking in as much tax revenue.

And as the city sinks further and further into debt, it's forced to make cutbacks - including to the police, which makes it tough to stop crime.

It's a vicious cycle.

In a statement, mayor Dave Bing told Forbes "There is no question that Detroit has many challenges."

"With all due respect to the data in this report, Detroit is in the midst of a transformation. That transformation is being driven by my restructuring plan, which is focused on four key areas: public safety; public lighting; public transportation; and neighborhood blight removal."

Another city in Michigan - Flint (perhaps most famous for Michael Moore's documentary 'Roger & Me') - ranked second, with many of the same troubles as Detroit.

People are leaving, homes are being torn down, unemployment is 11%, and the city ranks third in violent crime behind Detroit and Memphis, Tenn.

Oh, and for more than a year, Flint's finances have been run by an emergency manager, appointed by Michigan's governor.

A couple of potential surprises on the list: Chicago ranked 4th and New York at number 10.

As Forbes writes, "Both offer a myriad of opportunities and positives as the homes of financial centers, world-class culture, leading universities, sports teams galore and high-end restaurants."

"But it isn't easy living in either city, particularly if you don't earn a lot of money (even if you do it can be tough)."

People in both cities face long commutes (more than half an hour on average). In Chicago, home prices have dropped 37% in the past five years.


And during that same time, it's had "a net migration out of the city of 107,000 people," according to Moody's Analytics.

It's a similar story in New York, as Moody's expects 136,000 more people to leave the city than move there, over the next three years.

Forbes says "The only things saving New York from a worse ranking: few foreclosures and rising home prices."


You can check out the full list of America's most miserable cities here.

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