Imagine living in a city with the country's highest rate for violent crime and the second-highest unemployment rate. As an added kicker you need more Superfund dollars allocated to your city to clean up contaminated toxic waste sites than just about any other metro.
Unfortunately, this nightmare is a reality for the residents of Detroit. The Motor City grabs the top spot on Forbes' inaugural list of America's Most Miserable Cities.
Misery is defined as a state of great unhappiness and emotional distress. The economic indicator most often used to measure misery is the Misery Index. The index, created by economist Arthur Okun, adds the unemployment rate to the inflation rate. It has been in the narrow 7-to-9 range for most of the past decade, but was over 20 during the late 1970s.
Detroit in the top spot, with its sister city Flint ranked third, is probably not a great shock. "If Detroit were a baseball team, we'd say they are mired in a slump," says Sperling. Both Detroit and Flint have suffered tremendously from the auto industry downturn. Flint's plight was immortalized in the Michael Moore movie Roger & Me, which chronicles Moore's attempts to meet with then General Motors Chief Executive Roger Smith.
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