Who's Miserable?What makes a city miserable? Forbes considers 10 factors, including unemployment, crime and taxes, and a few that are less serious, but still elevate people's blood pressure, like the weather, commute times and how the local sports team is doing. To account for the misery caused by the housing bust, Forbes tweaked the methodology for this year's list and considered foreclosure rates and the change in home prices over the past three years.
(AP Photo/Spencer M. Green)
10. ClevelandLast year's most miserable city drops back thanks to a housing market that never overheated and therefore hasn't crashed like many other metros'. The weather is lousy, corruption persistent and it's a tortured sports market, with no championships since 1964. LeBron James' departure delivered the latest cruel blow last summer.
9;. Vallejo, Cal...This one-time Navy town became the largest California city to file for bankruptcy when it entered Chapter 9 protection in 2008. Unemployment is expected to average 12.5 percent this year, up from 4.9 percent five years ago.
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
8. West Palm Bea...The West Palm-Boca Raton area might sound glamorous with its beaches and million-dollar ocean-front homes. The reality is much different as the median home is worth $225,000, down 39 percent the past three years. Prices are expected to fall a further 22 percent this year as foreclosures continue to affect the housing market. Unemployment was recently at 12.3 percent.
7. ChicagoBaseball's Cubs used to be lovable losers, but $140 million payrolls and 102 years and counting without a World Series title is miserable. Chicago had the highest sales tax among big cities at 10.25 percent, but it was rolled back to 9.75 percent last year and now matches Los Angeles and Oakland for the top rate.
(AP Photo/Spencer M. Green)
6. Memphis, Tenn...Tennessee is one of nine states without an income tax (it does tax dividends and interest income), yet it hits residents with one of the highest sales tax rates in the U.S. at 9.25 percent. Violent crime was down 5 percent in 2009 according to the FBI, but still is tops in the country.
5. Sacramento, C...No state taxes $50,000 of income like California, with a rate of 9.55 percent for that middle-class tax bracket. Sacramento is a one-team sports town, and that team has been awful in recent years. The NBA's Kings have won just 26 percent of their games the past two-plus seasons.
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
4. Modesto, Cali...The median home was valued at $275,000 in 2006; today it is $95,000. And don't leave your car on the street in Modesto, where 3,712 vehicles were stolen in 2009, making for the second-highest auto theft rate in the country. It ranked first in four of the previous five years.
3. Merced, Calif...The economic downturn and busted housing market hit Merced harder than any other area in the country. Average unemployment of 16.2 percent since 2008 is the highest in the U.S., as is the city's 64 percent drop in median home prices.
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2. MiamiThe sun and lack of a state income tax are the only things keeping Miami out of the top spot. Foreclosures hit one in 14 homes last year. Corruption is also off the charts, with 404 government officials convicted of crimes this decade in South Florida.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
1. Stockton, Cal...Unemployment has averaged 14.3 percent the past three years, which is third worst in the country among the 200 largest metro areas. The housing market collapsed as well, with home prices down 58 percent over the same time. All the California cities on the list are struggling with the inherent problems the state is facing, including high sales and income taxes and service cuts to help close massive budget shortfalls.