Detroit Named Most Miserable City In The U.S.
Forbes has named Detroit the most miserable city in the country:
Forbes put Detroit Mayor Dave Bing on its cover in 2011 for a story with the optimistic headline: “City of Hope.” The premise was that the city had hit rock bottom and was poised for a turnaround.
“Right now, it’s all about survival,” Bing told Forbes.
Two years later, Detroit’s problems continue to multiply, sadly. It is still dealing with high levels of violent crime and unemployment. Home prices, already at historic lows, plummeted a further 35% during the past three years to a median of $40,000 as net migration out of the city continued.
The latest blow was Tuesday’s announcement that the city is on the verge of being taken over by the state. Detroit is in a financial emergency and cannot pay its bills. The city has been issuing debt to fund day-to-day operations. The continuing problems propelled Detroit to the top spot in our 2013 ranking of America’s Most Miserable Cities.
This year we examined nine factors for the 200 largest metro areas in the U.S. The metrics include the serious: violent crime, unemployment, foreclosures, taxes (income and property) and home prices. We also include less weighty, but still important quality-of-life issues like commute times and weather.
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 corruption, since both were based on regional, rather than city-specific data. We also added a new measure—net migration—which we see as a clear gauge of whether or not residents feel a community is worth living in. Detroit, which ranked No. 2 last year, also would have finished No. 1 under the previous methodology (click here for more details about the criteria for the list).
Detroit’s problems are hardly new. It has been in a four-decade decline, paralleling the slide of the U.S. auto industry. The city’s debt rating was cut to junk by Moody’s Investors Service in 1992, but declining tax revenues from a shrinking city will soon make Detroit a ward of the state.
Violent crime in the Detroit metro division 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. The city’s financial problems have forced significant cutbacks to the police force. It is a circuitous problem as high crime and unemployment force people to leave the city, which lowers the tax base and strains Detroit’s finances further.
“There is no question that Detroit has many challenges,” Bing said in a statement to Forbes today. “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.”
Coming in a close second to Detroit is Flint, Michigan, which has had decades long economic troubles similar to the Motor City’s. Also on the list are Chicago (# 4), New York (# 10), Toledo (# 11), Camden (# 13), Cleveland (# 17), and Youngstown, Ohio (# 20).