Toledo Talk

America's Fastest-Dying Cities

Aug 5, 2008 Forbes story :

The turmoil of the mortgage market granted a temporary reprieve from hearing about the woes of America's Rust Belt. That doesn't mean things are better. Despite a decade of national prosperity, the former manufacturing backbone of the U.S. is in rougher shape than ever, still searching for some way to replace its long-stilled smokestacks.

Where's it worst? Ohio, according to our analysis, which racked up four of the 10 cities on our list: Youngstown, Canton, Dayton and Cleveland. The runner-up is Michigan, with two cities-- Detroit and Flint --making the ranking.

These, and four other metropolitan statistical areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, face fleeing populations, painful waves of unemployment and barely growing economies. By our measure, they've struggled the worst of any areas in the nation in the 21st century. And they face even bleaker futures.

Another brutal statistic all the cities share is a diminishing population. So far this decade, 115,000 people have left Cleveland, for other climes. Smaller changes in other regions can be just as painful. Nearly 30,000 people have left Youngstown, Ohio, and they aren't being replaced by either new babies or new immigrants.

Still, the cities we found to be struggling don't vary widely by age, and this factor had little influence in the rankings. The oldest city in our top 10, Scranton, Pa., had 45% of its population over 45; the youngest, Flint had 38% over 45.

The worst news is, of course, economic. When we looked at the most recent gross domestic product estimates for 155 metropolitan statistical areas estimated to have $10 billion or more GDP in 2005--economies about the size of Asheville, N.C., or Tallahassee, Fla.--the news was predictably terrible for the Rust Belt.

In the fall of 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) published its GDP estimates from 2001 to 2005. Nearly every city in the country grew during this period (New Orleans, devastated from Hurricane Katrina, was the notable exception), but the struggling cities on our list grew more sluggishly. None of them grew more than 1.9% a year, versus a nationwide average of 2.7%. Canton, Ohio, managed to grow its economy just 0.7% annually. Flint was worse still at 0.4%.

Aug 6, 2008 Toledo Blade story

Also making the list are Buffalo, N.Y., Charleston, W.Va.; Springfield, Mass., and Scranton, Pa.


Toledo may be on that list some day as local officials continue to implement the Cleveland Plan to hide the Detroitification of Toledo.

Look at downtown Cleveland. Decent and active in spots. The Flats along the river gets attention. The new downtown Cleveland structures include :

  • New NBA arena
  • New Major League Baseball stadium
  • New NFL stadium
  • Rock n Roll Hall of Fame
  • Great Lakes Science Center

Those have all opened since 1994. Have they helped? They have made a small area of downtown Cleveland a nice place to visit, but they have obviously not helped the city as a whole. Cleveland's schools rank lower than Toledo's, and TPS is failing. Cleveland is still losing population. Cleveland ranks high nationally in poverty.

Detroit's new downtown projects :

  • One or two casinos
  • New NFL stadium
  • New Major League Baseball stadium

People move out to the burbs and the surrounding communities around Cleveland and Detroit.

Vacant Lots

Aug 5, 2008 - Toledo Blade - Toledo taxpayers, neighbors bear woes of vacant sites :

A study about vacant properties in Ohio released earlier this year said vacant and abandoned properties cost Toledo taxpayers at least $3.8 million in 2006 in demolition, boarding-up, grass-mowing, and trash-removal costs. In fact, Toledo's problem with vacant properties "is poised at the proverbial tipping point," according to a draft report of a study its authors plan to release later this week.

The study was conducted by the National Vacant Properties Campaign and was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Local Initiatives Support Corp., and the city of Toledo. The study, titled "Toledo at the Tipping Point," states the city has moderate levels of abandonment and vacancy when compared with other cities, but warns "powerful market forces could bring on a vacant property crisis."

While city and county programs have helped keep the number of vacant properties somewhat in check, "without aggressive action and political commitment, the number of vacant properties could quickly increase beyond the reach of local programs," the study states. The study uses census data from 2000 to estimate the number at about 7 percent of the city's 139,880 housing units.

That's not as serious as the number of vacant housing units in other Ohio cities like Cleveland, Dayton, and Youngstown, said Joseph Schilling, a professor at the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech and one of the study's authors. Those cities all have double-digit percentages of housing units vacant. But the problem in Toledo could get worse, because of the area's declining housing sales and increasing foreclosures [and declining population].

$1 Detroit House

Aug 13, 2008 Detroit News story titled Foreclosure fallout: Houses go for a $1

The fact that a home on the city's east side was listed for $1 recently shows how depressed the real estate market has become in one of America's poorest big cities. And it still took 19 days to find a buyer. The sale price of the home may be an anomaly, but illustrates both the depths of the foreclosure crisis in Detroit and the rapid scuttling of vacant homes in some of the city's impoverished neighborhoods.

The home, at 8111 Traverse Street, a few blocks from Detroit City Airport, was the nicest house on the block when it sold for $65,000 in November 2006, said neighbor Carl Upshaw. But the home was foreclosed last summer, and it wasn't long until "the vultures closed in," Upshaw said. "The siding was the first to go. Then they took the fence. Then they broke in and took everything else."

The company hired to manage the home and sell it, the Bearing Group, boarded up the home only to find the boards stolen and used to board up another abandoned home nearby. Scrappers tore out the copper plumbing, the furnace and the light fixtures, taking everything of value, including the kitchen sink.

"It about doesn't make sense to put the family out," Upshaw said. "Once people are gone, you're gonna lose the house in this neighborhood." Tuesday, the home was wide open. Doors leading into the kitchen and the basement were missing, and the front windows had been smashed. Weeds grew chest-high, and charred remains marked a spot where the garage recently burned.

Put on the market in January for $1,100, the house had no lookers other than the squatters who sometimes stayed there at night. Facing $4,000 in back taxes and a large unpaid water bill, the bank that owned the property lowered the price to $1.

On Tuesday, listed one other single-family home, one duplex and one empty lot at $1 in Detroit. So desperate was the bank owner of 8111 Traverse Street to unload the property that it agreed to pay $2,500 in sales commission and another $1,000 bonus for closing the $1 sale; the bank also will pay $500 of the buyer's closing costs. Throw in back taxes and a water bill, and unloading the house will cost the bank about $10,000. "It doesn't make sense in some neighborhoods to keep paying costs and costs," Colpaert said. "It can make more financial sense to give it away."

The buyer, a local woman, considers the home to be an investment property and will not live there, Colpaert said, though exactly how soon the buyer can expect to recoup her four-quarter investment is questionable. Replacing the guts of the house will costs tens of thousands of dollars, and the owner will have trouble keeping scrappers from stealing the improvements as quickly as they're installed. Home demolition costs about $5,000, Colpaert said. Meanwhile, the new owner will owe $3,900 in property taxes in 2009 on her dollar purchase unless she challenges the tax assessment.

While selling a home for the amount of change most people could find between their couch cushions is unusual, some abandoned homes in Detroit sell for $100; vacant lots can be purchased for $300. "My 14-year-old son could buy a block of Detroit property," said Ann Laciura, senior servicing specialist for the Bearing Group.


Toledo ranked 47th most dangerous city out of 378

November 2007 story :

Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city. St. Louis fell to No. 2. Another Michigan city, Flint, ranked third, followed by Oakland Calif.; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland, which was ranked the 10th most dangerous city.

Job Market

Two different views on Toledo's job market

September 2007 story :

10 Coldest Job Markets

1. Detroit
2. New Orleans
3. Youngstown
4. Dayton
5. Cleveland
6. Lansing
7. Toledo
8. Springfield, MA
9. New Haven, CT
10. Grand Rapids, MI

In Toledo, we are witnessing the full scale deployment of the Cleveland Plan to hide from the public the Detroitification of Toledo courtesy of Toledo and Lucas County politicians.

2007 Poverty Data

Aug 26, 2008 Forbes story :

Cleveland was the nation's second most impoverished big city in 2007, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey released Tuesday. The Census data put Cleveland's total up 2.5 percentage points from last year's report. A year ago, the American Community Survey using 2006 data ranked Cleveland as the fourth most impoverished city, with a 27 percent poverty rate. Two of the three years before that, Cleveland had the highest poverty ranking in the nation.

The data indicates Ohio has pockets of poverty statewide. Ohio's poverty rate was 13.1 percent, ranking it 19th among states nationally and tied with South Dakota, just a tenth of a percentage point above the national average.

Cleveland, with an estimated 29.5 percent of its population in poverty, is ranked only behind Detroit among cities with 250,000 or more people. Detroit had an estimated 33.8 percent in poverty last year.

In the Census data released Tuesday, Cincinnati ranked 10th nationally, with an estimated 23.5 percent of its population in poverty. In last year's report, Cincinnati's estimated poverty rate was 27.8 percent, or third highest nationally among big cities.

Two smaller Ohio cities, Youngstown and Dayton, were estimated to have poverty rates higher than Cleveland's but less that Detroit's. According to the Census estimates, Youngstown's poverty rate in 2007 was 32.6 percent and Dayton's was 30.2 percent.

Other Ohio cities and their poverty rates were: Akron, 23.6 percent; Toledo, 22.6 percent; Canton, 21.1 percent; Columbus, 21 percent; Lorain, 20.9 percent and Parma, 6.2 percent.

Aug 26, 2008 Detroit Free Press Detroit nation's most impoverished big city

About one in three Detroiters exist under the Federal Poverty Level of $20,650 for a family of four. Cleveland, Buffalo, El Paso, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Newark, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati round out the top 10 for those places with populations of 250,000 or more.

The American Community Survey examines economic, social, demographic and housing information in every county, as well as Native American, Alaskan Native and Hawaiian Home Land.

Other findings reinforce the stark difference between urban and suburban life in Michigan. For example, West Bloomfield Township is on the list of 2007 places with population of 65,000 to 250,000 people with the highest median household income at $98,832. Flint's median household income is among the bottom 10 in that same category, hovering around the poverty level at or a family of five at $26,143.

On the national level, poverty was statistically unchanged from 2006 to 2007, from 12.3% to 12.5%. Household income did increase 1.3% to $50,233 in 2007.

Aug 27, 2008 - Toledo Blade - Toledo's household income ranks among poorest cities /NEWS16/808270405 :

The top 10 large cities with the lowest median household income in 2007:

  1. Detroit $28,097
  2. Cleveland $28,512
  3. Miami $29,075
  4. Buffalo $29,706
  5. Pittsburgh $32,363
  6. Cincinnati $33,006
  7. St. Louis $34,191
  8. Newark, N.J. $34,452
  9. Memphis $35,143
  10. Toledo $35,216
Toledo's median household income in 2007 was $35,216, which ranks it as the 10th lowest of U.S. cities with a population of over 250,000. Toledo's median income was $33,691 in 2006. The median income for Lucas County, including Toledo, was $44,704 in 2007, up from $42,296 in 2006.

The rate of Lucas County residents living below the poverty line stayed about the same, 17 percent. The city's poverty rate - 23 percent - stayed about the same, and the median income went up by about 0.5 percent compared to 2006. But with the nation's median household income rising by 1.9 percent, Toledo's gains were outpaced by the rest of the country.

Ohio's median household income rose from $45,664 to $46,597 in 2007, but Michigan's median income fell from $48,546 to $47,950 in the same period - the largest drop in any of the 50 states, both in percentage and dollar amount.

Youngstown had the lowest median household income of all cities with populations between 65,000 and 249,999 people. The richest city in the country, in terms of household income, was Plano, Texas, which also had the lowest poverty rate.

Household income is the income of all people over 15 years old living in a single house - whether or not they are related to the owner. All the figures are adjusted for inflation. Mr. Finkbeiner said he was pleased the median income for Toledo had increased in 2007 over 2006.

The mayor said there would be a "continued diversification of the northwest Ohio economy with things such as technology and alternative energy leading the way in improving the average income of a family of Toledo and northwest Ohio."

Mr. Finkbeiner questioned the census bureau's methodology in calculating the data released yesterday. "My respect for the quality of the work by the census bureau is less that 100 percent," he said. "I know right now we are sitting on top of 10,000 to 17,000 more residents actually living in Toledo than the census bureau has reported." Gary Lee, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University, said the American Community Survey has the "best numbers around."

But the numbers show that regions that rely on manufacturing are continuing to drop.


Toledo's June 2008 unemployment rate is 8.5 percent

Aug 2008 Moody's proclaims Toledo recession

Toledo's January unemployment rate highest among Ohio's major cities

Wall Street Journal: Texas vs Ohio

There's no doubt times are tough in Ohio. The state has lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000, home foreclosures are soaring, and real family income is lower now than in 2000. Meanwhile, the Texas economy has boomed since 2004, with nearly twice the rate of new job creation as the rest of the nation. The nearby table compares the states over a decade or so.

Let's start with the fact that Texas's growth puts the lie to the myth that free trade costs American jobs. Anti-Nafta rhetoric doesn't play well in El Paso, San Antonio and Houston, which have become gateway cities for commerce with Latin America and have flourished since the North American Free Trade Agreement passed Congress in 1993.

Mr. Obama's claim of one million lost jobs due to trade deals is laughable in Texas, the state most affected by Nafta. Texas has gained 36,000 manufacturing jobs since 2004 and has ranked as the nation's top exporting state for six years in a row. Its $168 billion of exports in 2007 translate into tens of thousands of jobs.

Ohio, Indiana and Michigan are losing auto jobs, but many of these "runaway plants" are not fleeing to China, Mexico or India. They've moved to more business-friendly U.S. states, including Texas. GM recently announced plans for a new plant to build hybrid cars. Guess where? Near Dallas. In 2006 the Lone Star State exported $5.5 billion of cars and trucks to Mexico and $2.4 billion worth to Canada.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat who supports Mrs. Clinton, blames his state's problems on President Bush. But Ohio's economy has been struggling for years, and most of its wounds are self-inflicted. Ohio now ranks 47th out of 50 in economic competitiveness, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Ohio politicians deplore plant closings even as they impose the third highest corporate income tax in the country (10.5%) and the sixth highest personal income tax (8.87%).

Ohio's most crippling handicap may be that its politicians -- and thus its employers -- are still in the grip of such industrial unions as the United Auto Workers. Ohio is a "closed shop" state, which means workers can be forced to join a union whether they wish to or not. Many companies -- especially foreign-owned -- say they will not even consider such locations for new sites. States with "right to work" laws that make union organizing more difficult had twice the job growth of Ohio and other forced union states from 1995-2005, according to the National Institute for Labor Relations.

On the other hand, Texas is a right to work state and has been adding jobs by the tens of thousands. Nearly 1,000 new plants have been built in Texas since 2005, from the likes of Microsoft, Samsung and Fujitsu. Foreign-owned companies supplied the state with 345,000 jobs. No wonder Texans don't fear global competition the way some Presidential candidates do.

So tomorrow the eyes of America will be on these two states moving in different directions. Ohio has an economy burdened by high taxes and work rules that impose heavy costs on employers. Texas embraces free trade, keeps taxes low, doesn't impose unions on business and has tooled itself for 21st century global competition. Ohioans may not like to hear this, but for any company considering where to locate a new plant or move an existing one, the choice between Ohio and Texas isn't even a close call.

The challenge for our national economy in a world of competition is to become more like Texas and less like Ohio.

Toledo's July 2008 unemployment rate was 10 percent

Detroit's Unburied Dead

Nov 21, 2009 - The Times UK - Unburied bodies tell the tale of Detroit — a city in despair

After years of gross mismanagement by the city’s leaders and the big three car manufacturers of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, who continued to make vehicles that Americans no longer wanted to buy, Detroit today has an unemployment rate of 28 per cent, higher even than the worst years of the Great Depression.

The murder rate is soaring. The school system is in receivership. The city treasury is $300 million (£182m) short of the funds needed to provide the most basic services such as rubbish collection. In its postwar heyday, when Detroit helped the US to dominate the world’s car market, it had 1.85 million people. Today, just over 900,000 remain. It was once America’s fourth-largest city. Today, it ranks eleventh, and will continue to fall.

Thousands of houses are abandoned, roofs ripped off, windows smashed. Block after block of shopping districts lie boarded up.

Michigan’s Central Station, designed by the same people who gave New York its Grand Central Station, was abandoned 20 years ago. One photographer who produced a series of images for Time magazine said that he often felt, as he moved around parts of Detroit, as though he was in a post-apocalyptic disaster.
created by jr on Aug 06, 2008 at 02:52:18 pm
updated by jr on Mar 20, 2010 at 11:05:41 am
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