Forbes: Rockford Ranks #14 on Most Miserable Cities List

Forbes: Due to crime and unemployment Rockford lands a prime spot on a not so positive list.

According to Forbes Magazine:

Our Misery Measure takes into account unemployment, taxes (both sales and income), commute times, violent crime and how its pro sports teams have fared over the past two years. We also factored in two indexes put together by Portland, Ore., researcher Bert Sperling that gauge weather and Superfund pollution sites. Lastly we considered corruption based on convictions of public officials in each area as tracked by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

We expanded the list of cities under consideration this year to include the 200 largest metro areas (in years past we've examined 150) which led to a shuffling in the ranks. Any area with a population of more than 245,000 was eligible.

No. 1 Cleveland, Ohio
Residents of the Mistake by the Lake endure brutal winters, high crime and a tortured sports history. They are voting with their feet as the net migration out of the metro area was 71,000 over the past five years.

No. 2 Stockton, Calif.
Stockton relinquished its most miserable city crown to Cleveland this year, but the city still faces jarring unemployment and violent crime. Unemployment is expected to average 18.5% in the metro area this year.

No. 3 Memphis, Tenn.
Violent crime is second worst in the country and public officials are getting locked up at an alarming rate. On a positive note, the city's sole pro sport franchise, the NBA's Grizzlies, is winning some games after losing 72% of the time the past three seasons.

No. 4 Detroit, Mich.
Thousands of homes in this ravaged city were available for less than $10,000 last year. After shrinking for six straight years (including 9% in 2009), Detroit's economy is actually expected to expand in 2010.

No. 5 Flint, Mich.
The city of Flint is buying up houses and demolishing them in an effort to shrink the size of the city to a sustainable level. The area received $25 million in stimulus funds from the federal government to help with the plan

No. 6 Miami, Fla.
The weather and no personal state income tax are nice, but the city rates in the bottom 10% of areas when it comes to commute times, violent crime and corruption. Foreclosures hit 7.2% of homes in 2009, 10th worst in the U.S.

No. 7 St. Louis, Mo.
St. Louis is a baseball town, but what about those Rams? The NFL team has won only six games out of 48 the past three years, the fewest wins in football.

No. 8 Buffalo, N.Y.
This snowbelt city is still the second largest in New York state, but the population has fallen more than 50% over the past half-century as the industrial base waned.

No. 9 Canton, Ohio
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% of the adult population has a college degree.

No. 10 Chicago, Ill.
The Windy City flamed out in its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics despite a last-minute plea from President Obama. Bigger problems are the nation's highest sales tax rate (10.25%) and long commutes.

No. 11 Modesto, Calif.
Only Merced, Calif., has a higher unemployment rate than Modesto over the past three years. It is expected to average 18.5% in 2010. Foreclosures affected 8.5% of homes in 2009 according RealtyTrac, sixth worst in the U.S.

No. 12 Akron, Ohio
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% local income tax rate is one of the highest in the state.

No. 13 Kansas City, Mo.
High taxes and crime rates hurt Kansas City's standing, but what moved them up our misery list were its two awful pro sports teams. The Royals and Chiefs combined finished outside of last place only once in the past three years.

No. 14 Rockford, Ill.
Once known as the Screw Capital of the World because of the billions of screws and bolts made locally, Rockford has struggled with high crime as well as soaring unemployment, which is expected to average 16.9% this year.

No. 15 Toledo, Ohio
Cost of living is cheap in Toledo (15% below the national average), but that has not kept residents from leaving as there has been a net migration out of the metro area every year over the past two decades.

No. 16 New York, N.Y.
Yes, the biggest city in the U.S. has much to offer in the way of cultural opportunities and corporate headquarters. But the trade-off is torturous commute times and nosebleed-inducing income tax levels. Both are the highest in the U.S.

No. 17 Sacramento, Calif.
Foreclosures hit 5.6% of the housing units in 2009 in Sacramento. The city has been in a battle with the hometown Kings over funding for a new NBA arena. The Kings are coming off their worst season ever winning only 21% of their games.

No. 18 Youngstown, Ohio
Youngstown's favorite son, former Congressman Jim Traficant, is considering running for Congress again after serving seven years in prison on bribery, racketeering and tax evasion charges. Needless to say Youngstown ranks high on our corruption metric.

No. 19 Gary, Ind.
Gary's decline kicked off in the 1960s with the deterioration of the steel industry in the U.S. Violent crime rates in Gary continue to be one of the highest in the U.S.

No. 20 Philadelphia, Pa.
The city's sports fans basked in the Phillies 2008 World Series win, which ended a 25-year sports title drought for Philly. The win can't mask the city's prob


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  • by jenn Location: rockford on Sep 12, 2012 at 11:12 AM
    i live off harrison and 20th and its not that bad its decent over here never been messed with across the bridge is where not to go :)
  • by Jon on Feb 13, 2011 at 11:51 AM
    I just moved to Rockford for my new job and have found the place to be a warm and receptive town filled with interesting and friendly people. I was actually shocked to find that this town wasn't listed on the Forbes "Best Cities to Live" list. I highly recommend moving here to raise your children in the upper-echelon school system.
    • reply
      by Greg on May 31, 2011 at 09:11 PM in reply to Jon
      Jon, I'm assuming that you are being sarcastic. If you're not, I'd hate to see the place you moved from.
  • by Yolanda Location: Rockford on May 26, 2010 at 11:36 AM
    I was born and raised here. Graduating December 2010 from NIU and can't wait to get the HECK out of DODGE!
  • by Nathan Location: Rockford on Mar 24, 2010 at 06:08 PM
    Rockford is one of those cities you go to if you don't feel like going to chicago. The city has way to many stop lights, a lot of the roads are really bad, and the public schools aren't the best. If you can afford private schools there top notch. The city does have somethings to do: Shopping at the one main mall, going to magic waters in the summer, museums, and some art galleries, and many bike paths leading around the city. Rockford does have some good churches if your religious. Rockford does have a lot of unemployed workers, and the taxes are really high. The summers are nice, and the winters can get really bad sometimes. Over all if you like the in between big city life and the suburb feel rockford is for you, but if you like going out on the town Rockford is not the place, and if you really want to raise a family with good schools, the chicago suburbs just nearby would be better. Ive lived in Rockford for 18 years, and im ready to get out!!
  • by MC Location: Rockford on Feb 26, 2010 at 08:30 PM
    Really...the worst town in America. Never send your kids to school here unless youre willing to pay for private school if you want them to get anywhere in life. The radio stations, and the news stations are jokes...they think they are big time broadcasters. No. Theyre in Rockford, not Chicago. The airport is a major joke. Never ever come to Rockford. Imma outta here ASAP
  • by Jen Location: Rockford il on Feb 23, 2010 at 03:23 PM
    I've lived in rockford all my life (sadly) and the second i hit 18 i can tell you i'm moving far, far away. This city completely deserves to be on this list.
  • by Fail police Location: loves park, il on Feb 22, 2010 at 04:28 PM
    Rockford fails because of the following. People of Rockford are uneducated and rely on factory work that has all become outsourced to china due to unions. Rockford city councle members have rejected many oppertunitys that have been presented to the community. (did you know niu was supposed to be in rockford? Did you know we had a chance to get a drag strip that brings thousands of people into town every weekend?) im sure the non business all social program boards of Rockford have turned away many other things that could have helped with unemployment. We have high taxes due to all of our welfare/social programs. (many social program lifers move to Rockford to take advantage of our programs) Our schools are garbage. (too many rules for administrators and teachers to keep control and discipline students) thank you desegeragion law suit. every town around rockford should thank rockford for all of its new citizens who moved out due to the garbage schools. I could go on and on....
  • by linux-user82 Location: Rockford!! on Feb 22, 2010 at 11:01 AM
    ooook!!! i think that in order to have a better city and hell a better country is to start at home with your kids teaching them how to behave...please dont expect the local governments to fix anything (wich they wont) educate yourself and family and try to be a better person evryday!! God Bless Rockford!!
  • by unknown Location: rockford on Feb 22, 2010 at 08:08 AM
    IF ROCKFORD IS SO SCREWED UP MAYBE YOU SHOULD GT OFF YOUR BUTT AND HELP FIX IT........
  • by Britni Location: GA on Feb 22, 2010 at 07:45 AM
    I just moved from Rockford 3 months ago, after living there for 4 years. When we fist moved there from TN, I was shocked at how tough the winters were, but once I learned how to drive in the snow, I was just fine. We were apart of Heartland Community Church located in the heart of the city, and it made all the difference. God is doing an amazing work through this church in Rockford! I LOVE everyone there and miss them all very much. I disagree with this rating...Rockford holds a special place in my heart!
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