Forbes: Detroit and Flint are the top 2 most 'miserable cities' in the U.S.

Feb 22, 2013

Every American city has its miserable parts.

Forbes Magazine says there are just more miserable parts to Detroit and Flint than other U.S. cities.

Complete with photos of burned out buildings and cop cars, Forbes Magazine put Detroit and Flint at the no. 1 & 2 spots on its "American's Most Miserable Cities 2013" list.

Citing things like violent crime, unemployment, home prices, out-migration, commute times, and weather, Detroit moved from no. 2 on the list last year, to no. 1 this year.

Kurt Badenhausen writes in Forbes that Detroit is in a downward spiral that is hard to stop:

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.

A state-appointed emergency manager for Detroit is expected to be announced soon.

Flint is already has one.

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.

One more city in Michigan also made this list, Warren. The magazine points out that "Warren metro has seen home prices collapse--off 53% the past five years."

Misery nationwide

Those are three cities in Michigan, but just how 'miserable' are we as a nation?

According to a model developed by Arthur Okun, the U.S. "misery index" now stands at 9.49. That's the current unemployment rate added to the inflation rate.

Here's a historical look at the index:

The Misery Index - inflation rate plus the unemployment rate.
The Misery Index - inflation rate plus the unemployment rate.
Credit miseryindex.us

Here's the list of the 'twenty most miserable cities' from Forbes:

  1. Detroit, MI
  2. Flint, MI
  3. Rockford, IL
  4. Chicago, IL
  5. Modesto, CA
  6. Vallejo, CA
  7. Warren, MI
  8. Stockton, CA
  9. Lake County, IL
  10. New York, NY
  11. Toledo, OH
  12. St. Louis, MO
  13. Camden, NJ
  14. Milwaukee, WI
  15. Atlantic City, NJ
  16. Atlanta, GA
  17. Cleveland, OH
  18. Poughkeepsie, NY
  19. Gary, IN
  20. Youngstown, OH