Last week, Forbes published its list of America’s Most Miserable Cities.Forbes started by looking at the 200 largest metropolitan statistical areas (minimum population of 249,000). Each city was given a rating based on unemployment over the past three years, sales and income tax rates, commutes, violent crime, sports teams, median house prices over the past three years, foreclosure rates, and weather.
When looking at the criteria, it’s no surprise that California and Florida have many of the top spots. Cities in my home state, California, landed 8 of the 20 spots. California has a number of areas that would qualify based on the population minimum. Many other states only have a handful of areas that even meet the minimum to be included in the ranking. Aside from having many eligible cities, California and Florida are some of the hardest hit when it comes to real estate. In Stockton, house prices have fallen 67% from their peak in 2005, and unemployment is expected to reach 18% there. That’s all kinds of bad.
I think calling a city “miserable” based on these statistics is a little rough, but these metrics do catch the a large chunk of what makes a place desirable to live. Unfortunately, many of these factors have a spiraling effect. Increases in unemployment leads to increases in crime, increases in foreclosure rates, and decreases in home prices. I don’t think articles like this help, either. Apparently Stockton’s City Manager agrees, but it’s more fun to hear it straight from him:
“Stockton has issues that it needs to address, but an article like this is the equivalent of bayoneting the wounded,” says Bob Deis, Stockton city manager. “I find it unfair, and it does everybody a disservice. The people of Stockton are warm. The sense of community is fantastic. You have to come here and talk to leaders. The data is the data, but there is a richer story here.”
What factors do you think Forbes left out that contributes to making a city “miserable”? Do you think list is useful? Or does it do more harm than good?