America's Most Miserable Citieshttp://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/story?id=6845277&page=1
Feb 10, 2009
Chicago would seem to be on quite a roll these days. The city is a leading
contender to host the Summer Olympics in 2016. The hometown Cubs had the
most wins of any team in the National League last year and are one of the
early favorites to win the 2009 World Series. And, of course, one of its
own just became the most powerful person in the world (we're not talking
about Oprah either, but she's close).
So with all of the good vibes coming out of Chicago, how does it show up as
the third worst city on our second annual list of America's Most Miserable
Lousy weather, long commutes, rising unemployment and the highest sales tax
rate in the country are to blame for the Windy City being near the top of
our list. High rates of corruption by public officials didn't help either.
Misery was up around the country in 2008. Market meltdowns, bank blowups
and bailouts and cratering home prices often overshadowed the incredibly
positive stories of 2008 like the Beijing Summer Games and the historic
election of Barack Obama. The highly watched Misery Index spiked as the
unemployment rate plus the inflation rate surged to 9.6 in 2008, up from
7.5 the previous year. It was the highest annual level since 1993.
Our own Forbes Misery Measure saw a shuffling of the deck among the top 10
cities, with five new candidates getting a failing grade this year. Topping
the charts is Stockton, Calif., which was the runner-up on our list last
The Most Miserable City
Stockton ranks in the bottom seven in four of the nine categories we looked
at: commute times, income tax rates, unemployment and violent crime. Only
New York City has a higher income tax rate than what Stockton, and all
California residents, are forced to pay.
Stockton was ground zero for the housing boom and now the subsequent bust.
Home prices more than tripled between 1998 and 2005 and then came crashing
down last year. Stockton had the country's highest foreclosure rate last
year at 9.5%, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed
property. Things are not looking much brighter in 2009 as housing prices
are expected to fall another 36% on the heels of a 39% drop in 2008. Also,
unemployment is expected to jump to 13.3% from 10.4%, according to economic
research firm Moody's Economy.com.
Next page: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/Story?id=6845277&page=2