3. Valdosta, Ga. Median household income
: $32,446 Population
: 140,599 (87th lowest) Unemployment rate
: 9.2%(140th highest) Pct. households below poverty line
: 27.6% (9th highest)
From 2007 to 2011, the unemployment rate in Valdosta increased by 130%, from 4% of workers to 9.2%. The number of employed workers declined by more than 6,000 during that time. Those jobs remaining often pay a lower salary. Last year, nearly 17% of the workforce were employed in the generally low-paying retail industry, the sixth-highest percentage of all metro areas. In 2007, just 11.3% of the labor force worked in retail. Valdosta, however, has an improving and active housing market. Home prices rose nearly 12% between 2007 and 2011. Despite these positives, 14.4% of housing units were vacant last year, higher than the national vacancy rate of 13.1%. Also, 15.3% of homes were worth less than $50,000 versus 8.8% nationwide.
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