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Which Is The Most Miserable U.S. City? Detroit.

A pedestrian walks in downtown Detroit on Oct. 24, 2012.
Carlos Osorio
A pedestrian walks in downtown Detroit on Oct. 24, 2012.

Forbes magazine is out with its latest ranking of "Most Miserable Cities" in the U.S. and of 20 metropolitan areas listed, Detroit is on top.

The list takes into account the Misery Index, created by economist Arthur Okun, which combines the unemployment rate and the rate of inflation. Forbes factors in additional city data, including violent crime; foreclosures; income and property taxes; home prices; and even weather and commuting times. This year, the magazine also added in how people feel about quality of life in their home towns. Only the 200 most populous metropolitan areas were judged.

There are several reasons for Detroit's ranking, according to the Forbes index, and it seems to be linked to a vicious money cycle. Tax revenue is shrinking, which has led to large cuts in the city's workforce. Services are reduced, including the number of police officers. That's been coupled with a rise in violent crime, which Forbes says is the worst in the country. People are leaving the city, and tax collections are falling. Detroit's debt rating is junk level. And just this week, a team of experts declared that Detroit is in a fiscal emergency, says Reuters. That means Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder may consider appointing an emergency financial manager to get a handle on the city's troubled finances. Mayor David Bing and city council members could lose some powers.

Bing agreed his city has challenges but added "With all due respect to the data in this report, Detroit is in the midst of a transformation," according to the Detroit Free Press. He says his administration is working on public safety and urban blight, among other issues.

Three of the top miserable cities are from Michigan, including number two on the list, Flint. Another three cities are from Illinois, indicating the financial struggles plaguing the Rust Belt. Surprisingly, two big cities are on the list: New York and Chicago. Forbes says it's hard for low income people to live there; commuting times are long for workers and thousands of people are moving out. Winters are brutal in Chicago while New York's income tax rates are the highest in the country.

Here is the full list:

1. Detroit, Mich.
2. Flint, Mich.
3. Rockford, Ill.
4. Chicago, Ill.
5. Modesto, Calif.
6. Vallejo, Calif.
7. Warren, Mich.
8. Stockton, Calif.
9. Lake County, Ill.
10. New York, N.Y.
11. Toledo, Ohio
12. St. Louis, Mo.
13. Camden, N.J.
14. Milwaukee, Wisc.
15. Atlantic City, N.J.
16. Atlanta, Ga.
17. Cleveland, Ohio
18. Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
19. Gary, Ind.
20. Youngstown, Ohio

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Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.
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