Comment and analysis on all things Charlotte

Charlotte: 9th Most Miserable City

I do not remember when I first started using the Detroit-on-the-Catawba phrase to capture where Charlotte was headed. A couple years ago, at least.

Now comes Forbes magazine to relate that we are inching closer. Detroit is ranked as the mag’s Most Miserable city in America.

Charlotte comes in at #9.

The magazine calculates a misery score based on commute times, income tax rates, Superfund sites, unemployment, violent crimes, and weather. Any honest Charlottean has to know those measures will not bode well. Forbes itself had been captured by the Uptown crowd spin, however:

The biggest surprise on our list is Charlotte, N.C., which is ranked ninth. Charlotte has undergone tremendous economic growth the past decade, while the population has soared 32%. But the current picture isn’t as bright. Employment growth has not kept up with population growth, meaning unemployment rates are up more than 50% compared with 10 years ago. Charlotte scored in the bottom half of all six categories we examined. It scored the worst on violent crime, ranking 140th. … As home to banking giants Bank of America and Wachovia, Charlotte could see an uptick in unemployment, thanks to the problems at those banks.

Don’t you just love the “N.C” touch? Center City Partners is in orbit right now.

Worse, none of Charlotte’s actual Southeast peers are on the list — no Atlanta or Nashville. Or other similar sized cities like Austin or Kansas City or Fresno.

What is it gonna take to convince some people we are headed in the wrong direction? Why do we insist on doing exactly what has failed other cities — like Detroit?

For once I would like a straight answer.

Update: The Uptown paper of record has taken note of the Forbes ranking and is looking to talk with folks unhappy with Charlotte. Go nuts people.

27 Responses to “Charlotte: 9th Most Miserable City”

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    Detroit and Charlotte have in common the dependence on one industry: Detroit, cars; Charlotte, banking. That could be a problem in 20 years or so.

    But Charlotte the ninth most miserable city in the U.S.? That’s silly.

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    I agree with Howie on both counts. We do have a perilously undiversified economy (and the higher taxes go, the more difficult it becomes to change that). But ninth most miserable? I’m the last guy you’ll find raiding the Center City Kool-Aid, but I think that’s a big stretch.

    The interesting thing is that the Forbes survey doesn’t include anything about the schools.

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    I can certainly vouch for the change in unemploment. My experience of the last 15 years was that running an employment ad for non-professionals in the CO was a near waste of money. Response was slim, follow up response was VERY slim, and the pickings were terrible.

    That has changed DRAMATICALLY. The last ad we ran, in late December, was a basic 5 line $570 1 week ad. In the past that would have ultimately brought at best one or two reasonable prospects all the way to the door. That ad brought over 200 phone calls, 40 interviews, and five really solid new employees.

    Good for us. Not good for all the people out there looking for the basic jobs that fire the economic engine.

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    That was Forbes magazine.. Not the National Enquirer. Call it silly but that will get peoples attention. Crime and inadequate infrastructure.

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    Let’s look at how we got such a score on the Misery Index, which compares us to the 150 largest metros in the nation:

    Commute times 96 — Anyone argue with that? Anyone argue it will only get worse?

    Income tax rates 107 — NC top marginal tax rate is very high. We’ve know that for years.

    Superfund sites 97 — A complete blackbox to me, the one area I know nothing about.

    Unemployment 97 — We do have a chronic underclass plus a slowing economy.

    Violent crimes 140 — The BIG problem.

    Weather 88 — I LIKE the weather — except for the drought.

    Misery Measure — 625

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    I took a survey tonight on violent crime in charlotte. Couldn’t tell who it was from, but it seemed to be focused on gang crime with a slight lean to the schools.

    How would you rate the elected officials response to crime in charlotte-mecklenburg on a 1-10 scale sir?

    Zero.

    It’s 1 to 10 sir.

    Zero.

    I’ll put you down for a 1, ok?

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    Wasn’t there a report out showing violent crime went down in Charlotte?

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    Haver — that coulda been a guv campaign poll.

  • Jan
    30
    2008

    Haver – I would bet Jeff is right…a few of the Mayor’s adversaries trying to get some ammo…I got polled by Fred Smith’s camp last night…

  • Jan
    31
    2008

    Yes Howie -we know. Violent crime went down so now only 1% of the people in Charlotte were violent crime victims last year. Hooyah and hooray for blue sky!

    Unfortunately, the decrease only applied to 13% of the crime since the other 87% are property crimes and that went up by 2500. Still a net increase by 2200. Also, police arrests are down.

    So more crime, more cops, fewer arrests – but let’s only mention the good numbers. Doesn’t sound like a great direction, but when we are already 50% over the national average, what’s a couple thousand more incidents added per year?

  • Jan
    31
    2008

    What reason would Forbes Magazine have to mislead anyone, concerning Charlotte?

    Jeff’s list is enough to make Charlotte an unattractive city for outsiders, except for the illegal aliens, who represent the majority of Charlotte’s population growth.

  • Jan
    31
    2008

    Personal example: I left Charlotte 2 years ago for Columbia, and I am MUCH happier. My commute is shorter because I can afford to live closer to town. The commute I do have never frustrates me (Charlotte did EVERY day, 77N to Cornelius). My local and state taxes approach reasonable. We’ve got crime here, but not nearly the level at which Charlotte resides.

    Our police and sheriff both accept our gang problem as being real, and they approach it with a justice-minded attempt at solutions.

    Richland 1 schools are inner city and somewhat a mess, but not nearly as bad as CMS. Richland 2 is probably the best school district in the state.

    We’re already approaching spring here, with highs in the 70’s next week, little if any snow, and I love the warm summers.

    I think our biggest city problem is dealing with the homeless, and we’re not very good at that.

    Certainly, Columbia/SC have problems, but I doubt we’d make the misery index any time soon.

  • Jan
    31
    2008

    World Class at Last!!!!! Charlotte is finally on a list with New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

    I’m looking for the link but I saw something a few months ago where Wilmington Social Services was having a hard time cause many of their clients were packing up to move to Charlotte to take advantage of better services and an Urban Environment. The local Powers that Be have gained Control by encouraging people on public assistance and illegal immigrants to move here and vote for them. Now they are surprised that their base has decided to take over the party.

    The next 8 years are going to be interesting both locally and nationally.

  • Jan
    31
    2008

    The police chief made an interesting comment the other day. He said they were actively trying to get criminals to do things like break into cars instead of armed robbery. He said they were trying to show these criminals that it’s better for them NOT to rob someone at gun point because they will go to prison longer. He actually cited this effort as one of the reasons violent crime went down. What a strange strategy.

    As far as crime over all, like I have said over and over, it’s not that bad. There’s no where I go in this town I don’t feel safe. And I have two locks on my door, so I’m not worried about getting broken into.

  • Jan
    31
    2008

    Howie, in case you hadn’t noticed, our current Chief of Police is an idiot. This is the man who said “you can’t arrest your way out of a crime wave”.

    My philosophy: If they commit a crime, arrest them. If the jails are too crowded, build more jails. Under no circumstances should anyone be released due to overcrowding; jail is not meant to be a pleasant place, and if you don’t like it in there, stop breaking the freaking law. And if you’re on probation and you commit another crime, your ass is going into jail for a long, long time.

  • Jan
    31
    2008

    I wonder if they do this by metro area. Charlotte doesn’t really have any good suburbs outside of North Mecklenburg and Western Union Cty. I would certainly put cities like Gastonia and Rock Hill in the most miserable cities rankings. Unemployment, crime, and traffic are pretty bad in those.

  • Jan
    31
    2008

    That’s a fair question.

    Although I’ll note that Matthews was recently on some best suburb list — its best quality was affordability, precisely the thing we are destroying.

  • Feb
    01
    2008

    Howie – you might have seen this:
    http://www.wbtv.com/news/topstories/15093581.html

    However, the Thomas boy and the 7200 violent crime victims from last year will probably be thrilled to know that you feel safe. Fortunately for you, all those places you go don’t include CMS public schools or likely 99% of the rest of the city. We are tickled for you. However, for the rest of us miserable folks that don’t live with our blinds shut or in a perfect neighborhood, the threat of violent crime is a reality, and particularly for women.

    The last 20 seconds or so shows Paul Cameron with a CMS incident report, and quoting the great Peter Gorman saying that they should stop publishing their Incident Reports because “CMS should not be creating it’s own bad publicity”.

    Once again, ‘If the numbers don’t make us look good, let’s not put them out for public consumption.’ Under the same theory, I guess kids with bad test grades and report cards shouldn’t be bringing them home to parents??? Again I am reminded why I took mine out of CMS.

  • Feb
    01
    2008

    Crime is so bad in Charlotte, there is a blog devoted to listing all the crimes.

    Howie, check out ” Crimes in Charlotte”.

  • Feb
    01
    2008

    Papadoc, do you live in the Belmont section of Charlotte? Or Grier Heights? I didn’t think so. I live downtown and there’s not a single place I don’t feel comfortable walking to. Nor do I feel unsafe going to noda, south park, Central ave, Matthews, Pineville–you name it.

    And CMS is safe. Yes you have a few high profile incidents where a gun is brought to school or a knife, but overall it is not that bad. You are never going to be 100 percent crime free, but I guess until this city is the garden of eden, you aren’t going to be satisfied. And please don’t quote me anymore numbers. Measuring crime is a tricky thing because there are so many variables invovled. I could take the same numbers and show how Charlotte is actually safe.

    That said, I’m still baffled by the chief’s decision to encourage criminals to break into cars and not use guns in hold ups.

  • Feb
    01
    2008

    So Howie – weren’t you the one that first stated the numbers had gone down? So now you aren’t interested in them? Numbers are numbers Howie – there are no variables to the numbers of reported crimes. These are straight facts – straight from the CMPD website. Sorry if facts get in the way of what you want to believe.

    And you make my point exactly – downtown, Pineville, and Matthews are where you go. There is another 99% remaining of the city, you are a white upper class male, and fortunately for you – a lot of buffer areas to protect you in your high dollar abode. You aren’t even average. You are privileged. Try also looking at the online crime map sometime unless of course you really don’t want to know what really also goes on in your neighborhood while your blinds are shut.

    Within the last month in ONLY 2500 ft of 100 E. Trade: 55 larcenies, 31 assaults, 10 hit and runs, and 8 sex offenses. That’s YOUR hood buddy. Make those numbers go away with your variables.

    As for CMS – again you prove my point. You only hear about the high profile cases because they are amazingly… high profile! Most of the you don’t hear about, hence Gorman’s desire to lose the report. They still happen every day, even if you aren’t aware of them.

  • Feb
    01
    2008

    Crime stats are not the same as stats for a baseball player. Saying a city like Charlotte is “dangerous” as one website had it is misleading because it’s not dangerous all over but in certain pockets. Ask any law enforcement person and they will tell you stats can be skewed which ever way you want them.

    Yes I did say violent crime went down, yet not one person noted that stat on this blog but me. Why? Because it got in the way of what you want to believe, which is Charlotte is the new Deadwood and lawlessness is rampant.

    As far as your numbers for downtown, you don’t take into account just how many people pass through that section of town every hour of every day. In that respect, the numbers aren’t really out of the ordinary. Pecentage wise, it’s barely a blip on the radar. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but 99.99 percent of the people who travel in that section of downtown have never sniffed a crime.

    As for Gorman, I can’t defend a socialst leaning institution like CMS. But I know plenty who have gone through CMS and not one ever said to me or anyone else I know that they feel unsafe. It never entered their minds. I know one kids who went to Butler, one to Independence and one to Myers Park.

  • Feb
    02
    2008

    How could Charlotte be miserable? We have light rail !!

  • Feb
    03
    2008

    As someone who has lived in both Detroit and Charlotte – I can’t believe they are in the same league. I’ve lived in other places far more miserable than Charlotte.

  • Feb
    11
    2008

    I totally agree with this. I have been living in Charlotte for a year now and I hate it. I moved here from Miami for work and I thought I was the only one who thought it was miserable. I agree with almost all of these points:

    Crime does not seem to be a big deal, I hear about it on the news but it is not like Miami where people are killed left and right for a watch or wallet.

    The traffic is horrible! It is not the amount of people but the horrible civil engineering. The roads go all cray directions, the lights are set up so you hit every red light possible, and the highway is two lanes wide!!! Who has ever seen a city with a two lane freeway?!?!?! (77 and 485) I think it is ridiculous, plus the way people drive here makes it worse, everyone acts like they have no where to go.

    Weather, obviously Miami has nicer weather, but come on, three days ago it was 80 and this morning is was 25! It is like this all the time, its like the season changes every week!

    Taxes, this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen, first we have a state income tax (something I am not used to), then gas taxes are higher, they tax your food (again never seen that before), and the worst is their personal property tax, this blows my mind, they want to tax my car? I already paid taxes when I bought it, how can you have property tax on something that moves! My car could not be in the state all year but I have to pay property tax on it? That is mind blowing. I think with a better local government they could really try to manage the money better.

  • Feb
    12
    2008

    Ah, but the Chamber of Commerce says since the city does not directly levy the state income tax, you should not count it against Charlotte. ???

  • Feb
    12
    2008

    I completely agree that it is unfair to hold Charlotte responsible, however it is still a realty and as I see it a major down side of living in this city.

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