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Top 10 US Cities in Decline

From Factory Town to Forgotten: Top 10 US Cities in Decline

Ohio and Michigan may be key battleground states this election perhaps because they have the most to gain. In the list of fastest dying American cities, Ohio scored four slots and Michigan took two — it appears in these declining Rust Belt towns, there's nowhere to go but up.

What factors peg a town as "dying?" Dwindling populations, higher than average unemployment, and stagnant economies all combine to signal bad news for a city. The automotive industry has had the biggest impact on the trend, where the Michigan cities of Flint and Detroit (pictured) have seen unemployment approach 10 percent.

Though the cities on the list aren't facing the crushing real estate landscape that Miami, Las Vegas and Phoenix are seeing, it's hardly good news — the prices never climbed there to begin with. The one bright spot is that a survey shows that almost every city's economy in the US grew between 2001 and 2005; those making the list just grew at a much more depressed rate, some well below 1 percent. Here's the list:

  • Canton, OH
  • Youngstown, OH
  • Flint, MI — GM was founded here, and the city has suffered the auto decline even harder than Detroit.
  • Scranton, PA — Not even being featured on The Office can help the town build a post-industrial economy.
  • Dayton, OH

To see the rest, and one city who's rebranding to buck the trend,


  • Cleveland, OH — The city has lost over 100,000 people since 2000.
  • Springfield, MA — Springfield is actively combatting the decline by launching a rebranding as New England's "Knowledge Corridor" highlighting the boatload of universities close by.
  • Buffalo, NY — Once one of the US's 10 largest cities, it's been in decline ever since.
  • Detroit, MI — Despite economic decline, it's in the midst of a baby boom: 430,000 were born during a period where only 280,000 died.
  • Charleston, WV
  • As the shift from industry to service and information continues, what's the solution to industrial cities in decline? Given the global energy crunch and the cost of importing goods from afar, will industry return to the US — or is it gone for good? How can these cities adapt — and which candidate has the best plan to make that happen?


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