America's Most Miserable Cities

Congratulations to Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, Youngstown, and Canton on making America's Most Miserable Cities list. Though I don't think that's an honorable title per say.

Misery, thy name is northern Ohio

Forbes blasts Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown
By Rick Armon and Katie Byard
Beacon Journal staff writers
Published on Friday, Feb 19, 2010

Northern Ohio is a pretty miserable place to live — at least according to Forbes.com. The Web site on Thursday released its third annual list of ''America's Most Miserable Cities.'' Cleveland topped the rankings, and four of its neighbors also made the top 20: Canton, ninth; Akron, 12th; Toledo, 15th; and Youngstown, 18th.

Forbes.com ranked communities based on its so-called ''Misery Measure,'' which examined unemployment rates, taxes, commute times, violent crime, weather, Superfund pollution sites, public corruption and how pro sports teams have fared over the past two years. The Web site looked at the nation's 200 largest metro areas.

Of course, the rankings should come with an asterisk.

''By no stretch are we saying that nothing positive is going on in these cities,'' author Kurt Badenhausen said.

Cleveland earned the top spot ''thanks to its high unemployment, high taxes, lousy weather, corruption by public officials and crummy sports teams (Cavaliers of the NBA excepted).''

The rest of the top five are: Stockton, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; Detroit; and Flint, Mich. Other cities that made the top 20 include: Miami, Chicago and New York.

As for Akron, Forbes.com says: ''Home to Goodyear Tire and LeBron James, misery will be off the charts if favorite son James bolts the Cavaliers after this season for a new NBA team. Akron's 2.25 percent local income tax rate is one of the highest in the state.''

Akron city spokesman Mark Williamson noted the list came out on the same day that Bridgestone Americas officials were in town to break ground on the company's new $100 million technical center in the Firestone Park neighborhood.

Company officials, visiting from Nashville, sang the city's praises, Williamson said.

''We are convinced the people at Forbes are confused and must have meant Akron, N.Y., or Akron, Iowa, or maybe Akron, Colo.,'' Williamson said.

Stan Piatt, morning humorist on WNIR (100.1-FM), said Northeast Ohio's poor showing ''explains why we are up in the sale of hard alcohol in Ohio and our weight problems.

''We're eating our way through the misery index,'' he said.

Piatt, at WNIR for more than 30 years, said he's not miserable.

''I hang out at the local comedy club, sing bad karaoke, play pool . . . and this winter we have Olympic-style snow events at our own home,'' he said.

Turning serious, Piatt said, ''If you've got family and friends here, how miserable are you?''

Ed Gaffney Jr., owner of Rubber City Clothing, which includes two stores featuring items made in Akron and celebrating the city, said the list doesn't reflect the ''tremendous number of seeds planted in and around Akron,'' including the BioInnovation Institute and the expansion at the University of Akron.

''We have to nurture these seeds and keep them going so that over time, Akron will never again appear on a miserable-cities list,'' he said.

Susan Hamo, president of the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau, called the community's ranking ludicrous and said it obviously was developed by someone who has never lived here.

''I don't know how to respond to this because I so violently disagree,'' she said.

Perhaps Akron-area residents shouldn't quibble too much, though. A study released last year by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup Poll indicated that residents of Summit and Portage counties have a poor image of the area.

More than half the people surveyed for that study indicated they wouldn't recommend this community to others as a good place to live.

Canton also took it on the chin from Forbes.com with this description: ''The home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and home of President William McKinley has seen a net migration out of Canton in each of the past 15 years. Only 18 percent of the adult population has a college degree.''

Badenhausen said community reaction is always mixed.

''Politicians that acknowledge the list aren't happy about it,'' he said. ''But people who live in these cities . . . some come out swinging and say we're crazy, and then other people say we're right and they have to do something about it.''

Ned Hill, an expert in urban economics and development, said the rankings are simplistic, and he doesn't take them seriously.

''They are eye-catching, made to be splashed across the evening news and to drive traffic to their [Web] site,'' said Hill, dean of Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.

To read the entire report and see all the rankings, go to: http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/11/americas-most-miserable-cities-business-beltway-miserable-cities.html.


Top 20 Worst Places to Live in America
1. Cleveland, OH
2. Stockton, CA
3. Memphis, TN
4. Detroit, MI
5. Flint, MI
6. Miami, FL
7. St. Louis, MO
8. Buffalo, NY
9. Canton, OH
10. Chicago, IL
11. Modesto, CA
12. Akron, OH
13. Kansas City, MO
14. Rockford, IL
15. Toledo, OH
16. New York, NY
17. Sacramento, CA
18. Youngstown, OH
19. Gary, IN
20. Philadelphia, PA

Thank you, Ohio for reminding me how depressing of a state you are to live in.

With Love,
2009 Olde Canal Days Queen

1 comment:

  1. I'm really surprised that Detroit isn't closer to the top. I mean I'm not saying Cleveland is a great city but I mean, come on, Detroit has to be more miserable. Everyone lost their jobs because of the Auto Industry meltdown and there is like nothing left there. It's miserable!

    But I feel some sense of pride because Cleveland finally finished first in something!