Recent Forbes.com list is one to avoid

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Forbes.com came out with a ranking list last week that contained absolutely no reference to Virginia. That’s a good thing.

Many Virginians are familiar with the Web site’s annual list of the best states to do business. The Old Dominion has ranked at the top of that list for four straight years, a fact that economic development officials tout at every opportunity.

But Forbes.com offers many lists, including some that you don’t want to brag about. Last week’s list was “America’s Most Miserable Cities.” It is a ranking of 20 urban areas with the worst scores on the Forbes Misery Measure. The metrics include unemployment, tax rates, commute times, weather, crime, pollution and political corruption. To addition to these measurements of unhappiness, Forbes.com adds one more, the fate of each city’s sports teams in the past two years.

The list is dominated by Rust-Belt cities, with Cleveland ranked No. 1. In fact, Ohio, which was hit hard by the recesssion,  takes a drubbing from Forbes.com, with five of cities cities making the list. The others are Canton (No. 9), Akron (No. 12), Toledo (No. 15) and Youngstown (No. 19).

Despite the Rust-Belt bent of the list, it contains a number of suprises. One is that the state with the second highest number of cities on the list is California, with three: Stockton (No. 2), Modesto (No. 11) and Sacramento (No. 17).

Also surprising are the presence of Miami (No. 6) and New York City (No. 16). Sunny weather and the absence of state income taxes did not spare Miami, which was marked down for violent crime, long commutes and a high foreclosure rate. Likewise, winning the World Series didn’t save the Big Apple from the list because of “tortuous” commutes and high taxes. (Maybe the people at Forbes.com are Mets fans.)

While no Virginia cities are on the list, we should not get too smug. Commute times in Virginia are getting worse, jobless rates are rising and the crime rate has begun to tick upward. Some observers suspect we have been lulled into complacency by praise from media outlets like Forbes.com. We don’t watch out, we may drift from its list of the best to one of its lists of the worst.



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