June 8, 2013

Top 10 standard of living metro areas in the U.S.

Here's a 2011 USNWR table of interest:

Below are the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest adjusted median household incomes, as computed from 2009 median household income and cost of living data.
Metro AreaCOLI2009 Median Household Income2009 Adjusted Median Income 
Des Moines, Iowa90.6$56,576$62,446
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va.138.685,16861,449
Worcester, Mass.103.763,36061,099
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas89.354,14660,634
Ogden-Clearfield, Utah*10060,20860,208
Colorado Springs, Colo.92.355,17659,779
Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas92.154,53959,217
Madison, Wisc.*96.256,70958,949
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.94.255,46458,879
Raleigh-Cary, N.C.101.359,31658,555
The weather isn't great in Des Moines, but the scenery isn't quite as flat as I expected from Illinois. (Here's the Waveland golf course, for instance.)

D.C. is expensive, but the people who live there seem to be good decision makers about making money. It's almost like they know things we don't know, as if they have inside information.

Most of the rest of the list are the Dirt Gap usual suspects.

And here are the ten lowest standard of living metropolitan areas:
Metro AreaCOLI2009 Median Household Income2009 Adjusted Median Income 
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas87.230,46034,931
New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.177.862,88735,370
Modesto, Calif.*136.648,71635,663
Fresno, Calif.120.145,66138,019
El Paso, Texas89.736,14640,297
Honolulu, Hawaii166.367,74440,736
Springfield, Mass.*119.849,17741,049
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.141.658,52541,331
Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla.109.845,94641,845
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, Pa.*98.141,82342,633

Now, I would argue that Honolulu, New York, Miami, and L.A., have other things going for them that aren't measured in these statistics (e.g., nice weather or attractive women). But what do McAllen, Modesto, and Fresno have going for them? Cheap chalupas?

The Worcester, MA v. Springfield, MA conundrum is a little strange. They are both very old manufacturing cities. Worcester is 48 miles west of downtown Boston, while Springfield is 91 miles west, so Worcester might be an exurb now with big city salaries, while Springfield is too far to commute to the Boston area, while Hartford 27 miles to the south is decaying. But I don't really know much about Massachusetts. Springfield is 1/3rd Puerto Rican, which doesn't help median income stats. [As commenters note, you have to keep in mind that this is a list of metropolitan areas with the name of the urban core given as references, not as a definitions. The suburbs of Worcester are also exurbs of Boston and suburbs of Route 128, so they've got that going for them, which is nice.]

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

Colorado Springs has a lot of military bases and defense contractors.

David Davenport said...

Colorado Springs has a lot of military bases and defense contractors.

As does Marietta, home of Warner Robbins AFB and Lockheed Martin Plant #6, where the F-22 fighter was assembled.

Be interesting to note how many of these high standard of living places benefit from mil-industrial complex payrolls ... as does Silicon Valley, in the past and in the present.

...Today's fashionable military products including cyber attacking, cyber defending,and cyber snooping.

Anonymous said...

These ratings are laughable. Honolulu and Miami near the bottom?

I am actually in Modesto (#3) this week, and it is not that bad here. The 100 degree weather exposes the female flesh, and there is a lot of it. More woman;same hassle.

anony-mouse said...

1/ Having inside info would have little effect on income in any given year. Wealth would be a different matter.

2/ Actually the stats show a pretty equal America. The top of the top isn't even double the bottom of the bottom.

Anonymous said...

These ratings are laughable. Honolulu and Miami near the bottom?

Places like that are largely playgrounds for the rich with the majority of residents in some sort of low-paid service type work servicing the wealthy (restaurants, retail, bartenders, beauticians, masseuses, hotels, etc.)

Anonymous said...

If a measure is [mean income]*[quality of local university]/[cost of living] then Madison, WI is pretty much unbeatable.

candid_observer said...

Worcester?

Jesus, that is the last city I'd expect to turn up high on any list of desirable places to live, no matter the metric.

If I had to guess as to how it turned up here, it would be that a number of salaries are driven up by the UMass Medical School complex with associated hospitals, combined with the dirt cheap real estate (dirt cheap for Massachusetts). In short, it's cheap because it's such a crappy place to live, but the overall salary index is driven up by the otherwise high salaries of Eastern Massachusetts, and the presence of the UMass Medical industrial complex. It's the ratio that makes it seem great, but great it ain't.

Kaz said...

@David

Silicon Valley is a lot more independent than that. Cyber bullshit the government engages is chump change to the big companies of silicon valley. Apple made 40bil from their hardware, Google makes all their money from search, etc... All of that stuff about tech giants acquiescing to governments is so they can do their business in peace. They aren't so well lobbied (until recently) like other big industries are since the tech industry is relatively a fluid one.

All of that aside, there are a lot of good companies in the metro-Atl area. You have Coke, UPS, Home Depot, all major corporations have a regional office here since it's a big hub, biggest airport, etc..

@Anonymous 9:40PM

You're misunderstanding the ratings. These ratings identify what's a good place for middle-upper middle class people to live.

You can get a nice house in Metro-ATL with top school district for ~300k. A similar house would go for 500k+ in areas like New Jersey, New York with additional onerous taxes. California is worse.

My father regrets not coming to Georgia earlier. Felt rich moving down here from New Jersey with the same pay.

Cities are near the bottom because all the good areas are out of reach for normal people (with families), and bad areas are just way too bad.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/the-third-coast-by-thomas-dyja-and-more.html?ref=review&_r=2&pagewanted=all&


Shit book.

It compares opponents of illegal immigration with Nazis.

Ali said...

Springfield has a 50% white popn, Worcester has a 70% white popn per Wiki.

Anonymous said...

If CSprings wasn't so religious, it would be the best place from the 10 offered up on the first list.

dearieme said...

Some of the nicest places in Britain have lowish median incomes because they've filled up with retired people. Not only do pensioners tend to have modest incomes, widows tend to constitute households with only one income.

Anonymous said...

Warner Robbins AFB is near Macon, not Marietta.

I'd like to know more about the report, because Sandy Springs and Marietta (East Cobb) have plenty of wealth, but there are also significant pockets of lower income housing. My former elementary school in Sandy Springs is nearly all Hispanic now.

Anonymous said...

Do Hispanics really eat chalupas, or are chalupas just some bastardization of latino food that only white people eat?

Anonymous said...

Also: Are things like burgers and fries and hot dogs some kind of novelty food in Latin American countries? 'Blanco' food ...?

ExactaKing said...

That DC number is bullshit. Unless you are a lawyer, and your wife is a lawayer, you're living in Loudoun county; the housing is too expensive, especially for a young corporate cog; unlike Dallas or Houston, where a relatively young accountant can buy a house. Then again, that scarcity theory comes into play; DFW and Houston can expand forever.

Anonymous said...

Ah, good old Iowa. Where you can own a $50,000 house and still be safe letting your kids walk to school. It is a living argument for the fact that a racially homogenous, thinly populated society has many advantages over a crowded, "diverse" one. Iowa is not a wealthy place by any means, but it scores among the top ranks when it comes to school performance, low homicide and other crime rates, low teen pregnancy, etc.

If this agriculture-dominated frozen wasteland can do this well thanks to its lack of diversity, imagine whatcybu the rest of the county could would be like if it had kept its 1950s-era demographics.


The only real drawbacks to the place are the horrible winters, boring scenery, and the fact that there isn't all that much to do.

Anonymous said...

The list is laughable - having lived or spent considerable time in two of the top five places, and in New York.

Does not prove that white only places are better to live in.

Back to the drawing board, Steve. Try to find something more recent than 2011.

Anonymous said...

These high COLI cities are just homes to neo-serfdom where modern-day potentates rule over masses of "nameless, faceless rabble" as a commenter in a previous thread put it. The local cost of living is driven by the appetites of the potentates, thus the high COLI. These cities would include New York, where Wall St. potentates rule over hordes of cubicle drones and Fresno, where local corporate farmers and chamber of commerce types rule over hordes of field hands, drywallers and landscapers. Places like Atlanta and Raleigh seem to be more yeoman and less serf.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about what you wrote some time ago, Steve, about 'the central paradox of American politics'.

Namely, that red states tend to have lower unemployment, but the jobs pay less and are less secure(due to the gutting of many laws to protect workers).

However, whites in blue states tend to do better than whites in red states, while minorities(NAMs, really) do better in red states than in blue states(like in Texas vs California).

As the country shifts increasingly towards a Democratic majority, I'm assuming this could indeed happen nationwide too, even if there will be pockets of resistance.

Karen said...

Any system that classifies Baytown, Texas as desirable needs to be scuttled NOW. yes, it's cheap to live there, mainly becuase most humans don't like to breathe stinking refinery air all day long. Seriously, the place has a constant hydrocarbon methyl mercaptan (the chemical added to natural gas, and naturally occurring in poo.) and sulphuric acid smell. Add the heat, humidity, and weaponized bugs and you have Hell.

Brendan said...

The reason why the DC area has that profile is that it is home to a very large number of dual-income educated couples who earn, collectively, between 150 and 300k. A good number of these are in the higher end professional level government employee sector, while a larger chunk either work for government contractor companies (tech is especially big in that subsector) or in some related fields that started off as government contractors and now have a wider net. The DC area has pretty much no industrial base -- it's almost all knowledge worker, except for the people who need to service the needs of the knowledge workers (i.e., even knowledge workers need some plumbers and mechanics and food service people and so on to service them).

There is a significantly-sized underclass in DC itself (which spills a bit over into some of the closer-in suburbs), but by and large the dual-income high educated couples between 150 and 300k tend to dominate the middle and outer suburbias, as well as Northwest DC itself, and this tends to skew the graph.

It needs to be underscored, however, that the economy in DC is not broad and diverse. Basically, it's all knowledge workers, with particular emphases in technology (from a network and systems perspective, not from the Silicon Valley perspective) and law (either actual practice, or political lobbying), with smaller groups in journalism and academia/think-tanks. It's a very skewed and highly unrepresentative situation compared to almost every other major American metro.

Anonymous said...

I you sure about Worcester, Mass. The place looks like a dump. In fact it reminds me of Scranton, Pa.

John said...

Bicycle in Iowa, and you will never again think of it as flat.

Not that flatness isn't...thought-provoking. It was near McAllen that I was reminded of something I'd first glimpsed in the Northwest Territories: flat land, if it has some trees, can prove to you that the Earth is round. In such circumstances, you see treetops but not tree trunks at the horizon, meaning these are growing on the far side of a bulge. Completely off the topic of living standards, but I would like to know how rare is this geographical/botanical circumstance, and whether anyone standing in just the right place in, say, Africa or central Asia perceived the curvature of his planet long before any seafaring culture did.

Mike's Chosen said...

U. Mass Medical School and research facilities, as well as some pharm like Abbott are in Worcester.

"These ratings are laughable. Honolulu and Miami near the bottom?"

They factor cost of living in. If you make $50k a year with a cost of living of X, and move to take a job that pays $20k more per year but blow the extra $20k in higher housing costs, etc are you really better off? Arguably you're worse off because taxes and other programs are based upon not taking cost of living into account.

Anonymous said...

I live about half an hour from Worcester. It definitely benefits enormously from being within reasonable driving distance of Boston. In the last two jobs I've had in downtown Boston, I've worked with people who commuted from around Worcester. That commute's around an hour, and it's not bad at all if they're only going to the 128 belt or thereabouts.

There are also some solid schools there- Holy Cross, WPI, UMass Medical School being the best, and then followed by Assumption, Anna Maria, Clark, and others. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few Harvard and Princeton grad academics I know who've lived there for a long time.

Real estate is definitely cheaper than it is in the Boston inner suburbs, but it's not cheap by national standards.

Anonymous said...

Springfield is way too far out in the middle of nowhere to benefit from Boston's success. It's a more typical example of a declining post-industrial city.

Daniel C. said...

"The only real drawbacks to the place are the horrible winters, boring scenery, and the fact that there isn't all that much to do."

I used to live in a whitopia like that, where people lived without shame that the place was ~90% white and ~5% Asian. The last 5 years I'ved lived in a "vibrant" big city. Trust me, overall the shameful whitopia is MUCH better, especially if you have kids or think you might eventually.

ironrailsironweights said...

Worcester indeed has become a Boston exurb. It is on the MBTA commuter rail and also is within reasonable driving time of many suburban office parks. While I'm not too familiar with the towns around Worcester, most of them seem nice enough.

I'm actually surprised that Springfield's median income is so much lower. The city has its run-down areas, like any city its size, but doesn't seem too bad. One thing that might reduce the Springfield metro area's median income to some extent is the large (40K) suburb of Holyoke just to its north, which is very ghetto-ish.

Saying "Hartford is decaying" is true but misleading. Most of the decay is limited to the city itself, which is geographically very small (16 or 17 square miles). The suburbs tend to be much nicer. One thing that might be relevant to Springfield is that the corridor between Hartford and Springfield contains a number of office parks and suburban industries and gives off quite an air of prosperity.

Peter

JayMan said...

Now I can tell you Springfield makes perfect sense; that place is a hole.

Indeed, the much of the CT shoreline to Connecticut Central Valley area is in bad shape, particularly Bridgeport & Waterbury CT (New Haven hangs on thanks to Yale; areas east of Bridgeport are OK thanks to the being in the NYC suburban sphere). As cities go, Hartford isn't doing too well, but it does have a little bit of life in it. Springfield is just a place that once "was" that may never "be" again.

Worcester is interesting. It overall isn't all that much better than Springfield. It is really too far to be a proper Boston suburb. But, as I've been told, the area has a little bit of IT going on, and that might be doing the trick.

Svigor said...

Report: Homeschooling Growing Seven Times Faster than Public School Enrollment

Any concerns about the quality of education children receive by their parents can be put to rest by the consistently high placement of homeschooled students on standardized assessment exams. Data demonstrates that those who are independently educated generally score between the 65th and 89th percentile on these measures, while those in traditional academic settings average at around the 50th percentile. In addition, achievement gaps between sexes, income levels, or ethnicity—all of which have plagued public schools around the country—do not exist in homeschooling environments.

Haha. Hoooo, boy. Statism vs. racial equalitarianism; who gets thrown under the bus? My guess is, the latter.

Prof. Woland said...

At first blush you would think that once you were a two hour car ride from LA or the Bay Area that farm land in the California Central Valley would cost about the same as farm land in Iowa or Texas, but it is far more productive. It is one thing to plough under a corn field or cattle pasture and another to chop down an almond orchard. Places like Fresno, Modesto, Chico, etc. all have a natural economic greenbelt that prevents totally unorganized sprawl like you see in other places. All the population growth in these cities is due to Hispanic migration and higher birth rates. It is less expensive to stack them in cheap apartments on the outskirts of town than dig up another productive farm across the street.

Harry Baldwin said...

Springfield MA is an absolute dump. I have a friend who lives in the area and he regularly sends me local news items with headlines like "Four Stabbed at Baby's Christening."

Anthony said...

You're misunderstanding the ratings. These ratings identify what's a good place for middle-upper middle class people to live.

Nope - they're identifying good places for middle-class to lower-middle-class people to live. That's where "median household income" puts you.

My wife and I have a household income in the top 25% of the Bay Area. While moving to Des Moines (which would put us near her family) would make our cost of living 2/3 or less of what it is here, there's a good chance our income would drop proportionally. For higher-income couples, the drop might even be greater, as there would be a good chance that one of the couple wouldn't be able to find a high-level professional job, potentially cutting their income by more than 50%.

It would be interesting to rescore the cities based on the 75%ile and 90%ile incomes, to see which cities are best for the professional classes. It would also be interesting to rescore for the 25%ile income, to see what's the best place for typical working class folk.

Henry Canaday said...

Is it an accident that the two highest standards of living occur in the places that: 1) go first and most influentially in picking the next President (oink, oink, ethanol subsidy) and 2) govern the country?

Anonymous said...

On the topic of Fresno demography and economy, you've got to read this latest anti-immigration control piece from the establishment media:

In Nation's Breadbasket, Latinos Stuck in Poverty

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — On a warm spring day, farmworker Cristina Melendez was bedridden and unable to make her way back into the asparagus fields of central California for the kind of backbreaking work she's done since childhood.

The 36-year-old mother of seven was desperate. Her bank account had been at zero for months, the refrigerator was nearly empty, and she didn't have enough to cover the rent. Lacking health insurance, Melendez couldn't see a doctor or afford medication, so her illness dragged on — and another day came and went without work or pay.

A native of Mexico who was smuggled into the United States as a child, Melendez had once dreamed big: to be a bilingual secretary, to own a house and a car, to become a U.S. citizen. Agriculture, she hoped, would be the springboard to a better life — for her and her U.S.-born children, the next generation of a family whose past and future are deeply rooted in the fertile earth of America's breadbasket.

California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, with Fresno County farmers receiving a record $6.8 billion in revenues last year. But the region also consistently ranks among the nation's most impoverished....

This divide causes concern because of what it may foretell as the nation's Hispanic population explodes and the U.S. moves toward becoming a majority minority nation. Census data show that non-Hispanic whites will cease to be a majority somewhere about the year 2043. The shift is largely driven by high birth rates among Hispanics as well as by declines in the aging white population....

Melendez's journey here began with her father, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in the late 1970s to pick oranges. He returned to Mexico within a year, but Melendez's mother, Maria Rosales, then came to pick grapes, almonds and peaches....

At 13, Melendez, along with two of her sisters, joined her mother in California, having trekked with a smuggler across the border. The family settled in a small farmworker town in Fresno County. After school and on weekends, Melendez and her sisters picked the grapes that surrounded them...

Melendez dropped out of high school to get married and to get away from working the vineyards, but she and her husband soon separated. Though she spoke good English, she still lived in the country illegally and lacked a high school diploma, barring most employment. She again turned to the fields....

Paid by the hour, Melendez generally receives California's minimum wage of $8. But whenever possible she works "piece rate," getting paid a set amount per box or bucket picked. Running through the fields to pick as much as she can, she once grossed about $3,000 for a few weeks of work....

Without legal status, Melendez can't file for unemployment. She obtains food stamps for her U.S.-citizen children, but otherwise receives little government help....

Her eldest sons, age 18 and 21, have high school diplomas but no jobs. The oldest, Cristian, started attending Fresno City College's automotive technician program with the help of a loan but then dropped out. Last winter, with help from a local employment program, he got a two-month job at a bakery. He's also filled temporary positions in maintenance and at a vacuum cleaner company.

Now a parent himself, with a 3-year-old son to support, Cristian said he's desperate to find something permanent.... He eventually hopes to get a business degree and open a tattoo parlor and smoke shop, but still fears following in his mother's footsteps — never finding a way out of the fields.
___

Read the full report here.

Anonymous said...

Boston's tech hub is on its outer rings
going far enough west you might start hitting second home terrirotry -the Berkshires, etc.

Anonymous said...

The DC burbs are highly undesirable to live in if you are not a single person making over 100 grand. All non-extravagant housing is dominated by surly third worlders. Also, the exurbs are growing Korean and Indian ghettos at an incredible rate. Very unpleasant for an actual middle class white family.

Anonymous said...

Worcester is indeed a hellhole. However, it has some very nice surrounding areas such as Bolton, Shrewsbury, and Southborough. People who live in the Worcester area can generally commute to Boston for work, whereas people from Springfield cannot. Also the suburbs of Worcester are very nice without being as expensive as the suburbs that are closer to Boston.

Anonymous said...

"The weather isn't great in Des Moines..."

The weather in the Midwest doesn't strike me as all that bad. Though to be fair I never lived in Minnesota or Wisconsin. A little variety isn't too bad. Honestly I think I'd be disconcerted living in SoCal. Its not natural.

Anonymous said...

I had some Irish relatives who migrated to Worcester at the turn of the last century and when I looked at where they lived on Google Street View it seemed to me that they would have been better off staying in Ireland. The jobs they had in Worcester paid more but they lost out in terms of quality of life. Most of them were just factory fodder. The only plus I could see was that their children had a better education.

Anonymous said...

Harris tooblack and Mexicn for 60,0000 income. Texas even with adjusted still is about 50,000 Utah is beating the shit out of Texas in terms of poverty and income. Steve is givng the Republican Prograndra.

Anonymous said...





































































































































































Texas poverty rate without adjustment 18 percent and with adjustment 16.5 percent. Utah 11 percent with or wihout adjustment and New Hempshire at 11 percent and 8 percnet








Anonymous said...

Texas, Georgia high povety and low income too many illeegal Hisapnics in Texas at 1.6 million and Georgia too may balcks. Texas poverty even adjusted at 16.5 much higher than places like Minnesota or Iowa or even Colorado. Steve don't pused the Republican prograndra that lies about Texas.

poolside said...

"Any system that classifies Baytown, Texas as desirable needs to be scuttled NOW"

That is just how the metro area is classified -- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown. There are plenty of very nice places there that are miles from Baytown itself.

Anonymous said...

Harris County Texas even behind income of Maricopia Az in terms of poverty. Harris 18 precnet and Maricopia 14 percent evne with adjustment for income Harris does not improved.. Get rid of Sugarland and the burbs and Houston income would really dropped

Anonymous said...

Georgia also ranked eighth in the nation in the number of uninsured residents, at a rate of 19.4 percent. Roughly 1.9 million Georgians did not have health insurance last year when the state joined a challenge to President

Georgia poverty much higher than Utah. Utah Steve is the best it doesn't have the illegal immirgant population of Texas or the black populatinat 12 percent or Gerogia's at27 percent.

ATBOTL said...

Worcester and Springfield are depressing, run down slums full of third world welfare dependents. Basically, the people who lived in the South Bronx and Harlem in the 70's relocated there while being replaced with new third world immigrants. They are terrible places to live.

There is an enormous arc of satellite ghettos around NYC that blacks, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans have moved to and trashed. The ghetto belt is far out from the city, we're talking 50-100 miles in most cases. It's located in CT, MA, upstate NY and eastern PA rather than New Jersey, which has a very high cost of living and zoning to stop new development on the remaining patches of open land.

What we sill start seeing soon is these ghetto belts metastasizing to form larger regions denuded of whites.

Anonymous said...

Also, North Carolina is doing a lot worst than you are showing here. It has a higher unemployment than most places. Steve, the Republican Prograndra does include that certain states have high property taxes or more heating and cooling costs. NC is behind Minnesota in terms of income and has higher poverty rates. Minnepolis-St Paul doesn't do great but its burbs do well and can have a higher adjustment than many parts of Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. Compatred little New Hempshire a higher cost of living but almost no blacks or Hispanics and it outperfoms the places youa re pushing. Vdare just goes the south too many breaks even when the South has bad stats do to blacks or in the case of Texas do to Hispanics.

Anonymous said...

Re: Worcester vs. Springfield

Note that the list is based on metropolitan areas, not the cities themselves. Worcester itself is a shithole, but has less than a quarter of the population of the bucolic, implausibly-defined Worcester Metropolitan Area (all 48 towns included are listed in the NECTA file here).

Anonymous said...

The symbol of poverty in America is usually a crumbling inner city or isolated rural community. That symbol changed during the Great Recession. Suburbs, once the hallmark of a bustling middle class, are increasingly home for America's poor ("Poverty rates rise rapidly in suburbs," Page R21, May 26). Here in Houston, the number of poor people living in the suburbs doubled between 2000 and 2011, surpassing even the number of poor in the urban center. See, Steve alot of poor from other parts of the US and from Mexico to do construction jobs moved to Houston area.

Bostonian said...

If the point of the list is to suggest where people should live, you need to adjust the statistics for race and education. How much more do college-educated whites earn in some places than others?

Reg Cæsar said...

Since this question is at the confluence of geography and psychology, why not pose it somewhere experts in those fields are likely to meet? Like a university that pioneered departments in both disciplines and has kept them at or near the top of the rankings to the present day. Like Clark U. But where the heck is Clark?

In Worcester, Mass.!

Clark also has the distinction of retaining Robert Goddard and driving Franz Boas away.

(When I was scoping out graduate geography programs in the mid-'80s, Clark's was easily the hardest to get into. I'm sure people were using Dartmouth, Cornell and Berkeley as backups should the thin envelope arrrive from Worcester.)

Maybe the folks at Clark already know the answer to why their town is near the top. And maybe, just maybe, they'd rather you didn't.

Reg Cæsar said...

Ah, good old Iowa... The only real drawbacks to the place are the horrible winters, boring scenery, and the fact that there isn't all that much to do.

In Iowa, you're rarely more than a county or two away from a small, private liberal arts college with halfway decent arts, music and theater events open to the public. If you're mentally bored in Iowa, that says more about you than it does about Iowa.

Iowa also came up with RAGBRAI, which is the Tour de France for average Joes.

I am actually in Modesto (#3) this week, and it is not that bad here. The 100 degree weather exposes the female flesh, and there is a lot of it.

Then "Modesto" is the wrong name, don't you think?

If CSprings wasn't so religious, it would be the best place from the 10 offered up on the first list.

Are leather bars that important to you?


ironrailsironweights said...

There is an enormous arc of satellite ghettos around NYC that blacks, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans have moved to and trashed. The ghetto belt is far out from the city, we're talking 50-100 miles in most cases. It's located in CT, MA, upstate NY and eastern PA

Not true in Connecticut. Most of the Connecticut communities that have substantial minority populations have been that way for many years. The last big influx of minorities was from Puerto Rico in the 1960's, though white flight has increased the minority percentages ever since. While there has been some migration, if you can call it that, of minorities across town lines - for instance, the town of Hamden has become more heavily minority as people move there from next-door New Haven - I am not aware of any big influx of minorities from New York.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Most of Texas poverty is Mexican and believe it or not Mexicans only do better in Texas than California in only owning a home, their poverty rates are similar. Housing is cheaper in the South and whites tend to have an advantage since they have higher skills. Minorities are more likely to do less better in the south since their is less welfare and they are low income. Rent is better and that's the only category they do better in the south while whites particularly in Texas who have moved from places like Orange County Ca and San Diego make out like gangbusters since the housing is cheaper.

Cail Corishev said...

I'm always amused by the claim that there's "nothing to do" in places like Iowa. I grew up in a rural area along with lots of people who couldn't wait to move to a big city where there would be "stuff to do." Now they live in cities, where they spend their leisure time going to movies, watching TV, eating out at restaurants or ordering in, going out for drinks, attending their kids' sporting events, shopping, and going to the nearest beach -- all the same stuff the people who stayed here do. The main difference is they may occasionally eat an ethnic food we don't have. Not one of them goes to the opera on a regular basis, or does anything like that that they couldn't do here. They may go to a concert or pro sporting event now and then -- but so do we, and when it's over, we don't have to stay there.

Tristero said...

Don't forget that, in "On the Road", Kerouac wrote that "the prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines". Although all that high fructose corn syrup may have had an impact in the intervening years...

Anonymous said...

he Rio Grande Valley has a load of troubles: high unemployment, low-paying jobs, warring Mexican cartels, a meager tax base and legions of people without health insurance. While many of those woes seem incurable, expanding Medicaid to the region's uninsured is, to Paula Gomez, who runs several local health clinics, a no-brainer.

Enlarge image
Paula Gomez, the executive director of the Brownsville Community Health Center, is fighting to expand Medicaid to the uninsured in the Rio Grande Valley.

Courtesy of the Brownsville Community Health Center
"I think if we're not ready, if Texas doesn't buy in in the next three months, shame on us," she says.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation — 1 in 4 Texans has no health coverage — and the rate in the Rio Grande Valley is even higher. Medicaid is closed to anyone earning more than $196 a month, leaving many working adults ineligible and without coverage.

Under the health law, the federal government would pay the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years, then 90 percent in subsequent years. As it stands, Texas would have to spend about $1 billion a year over the next three years, say Democrats, to receive $27 billion in federal matching funds.

ironrailsironweights said...

There's a big collection of reasonably well-paid jobs about ten to fifteen miles south of Springfield just across the state line: Connecticut's multi-institution prison complex. Though Massachusetts residents might not be eligible for jobs there.

Peter

James Kabala said...

Reg Caesar: Clark is still a good school, but it never again achieved the heights it reached in its first two or three decades of existence. It is one of the few ex-members of the Association of American Universities. Today it might be only the third most prestigious college in Worcester itself (after Holy Cross and WPI). It is also in a run-down neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

"That DC number is bullshit. Unless you are a lawyer, and your wife is a lawayer, you're living in Loudoun county; the housing is too expensive, especially for a young corporate cog; unlike Dallas or Houston, where a relatively young accountant can buy a house."

It's almost as if they took that into account by adjusting the cost of living by, let's see, oh, there it is, 138.6.

I'm not sure if you're illiterate or innumerate, since this idiocy sort of straddles the difference.

Anonymous said...

Let's get passed the left-right here and be honest. The reason why some parts of California or Texas are hellholes is because of bad immigration for 30 years. In fact I challenge Steve to admit that Texas under Perry and Dewhurst who wanted a big guest worker program are the reason why the state has imported the Rio Grande poverty to Houston, Dallas and Austin and so forth.

E. Rekshun said...

I went to a few good concerts in Worcester in the '80s: Tom Petty, Huey Lewis, Foreigner, Billy Squire.

Anonymous said...


Is it an accident that the two highest standards of living occur in the places that: 1) go first and most influentially in picking the next President (oink, oink, ethanol subsidy) and 2) govern the country?


good point.

The primaries should rotate. No state should be allowed to go first, second or third until all the other states have all had a chance to be first, second and third. A state should only get to go first once every 200 years.

Reg Cæsar said...

James K:

I wasn't aware that Clark ever had any prestige, outside two stellar departments. And it looks as if they're being increasingly bypassed in psychology rankings, no doubt due to the postwar psychoboom finally catching up to them. But they're still up there in geography, which may explain why their logo is a globe. What else do they have?

But if the logo tells one story, the motto tells another. Once the noble Fiat lux, it's now "Challenge Convention, Change Our World". Gaaa!

That's as bad a slide as Northwestern's great School of Speech degrading to the gaseous "Communications" in 2002.

James Kabala said...

Reg C.: Yes, I looked Clark up on Wikipedia and noticed that as well. I wonder what the backstory is - I know most modern colleges have gaseous missions statements, but to actually change the official motto - O tempora! O mores!

Anonymous said...

"In Iowa, you're rarely more than a county or two away from a small, private liberal arts college with halfway decent arts, music and theater events open to the public. If you're mentally bored in Iowa, that says more about you than it does about Iowa."

You forgot hunting and getting drunk. And if you are a teenager, you and your friends can get in your $500 car (that you purchased from the proceeds of doing corn detasseling) and drive back and forth up and down Main Street for hours.

Anonymous said...

"I'm always amused by the claim that there's "nothing to do" in places like Iowa. I grew up in a rural area along with lots of people who couldn't wait to move to a big city where there would be "stuff to do." Now they live in cities, where they spend their leisure time going to movies, watching TV, eating out at restaurants or ordering in, going out for drinks, attending their kids' sporting events, shopping, and going to the nearest beach -- all the same stuff the people who stayed here do. The main difference is they may occasionally eat an ethnic food we don't have. Not one of them goes to the opera on a regular basis, or does anything like that that they couldn't do here. They may go to a concert or pro sporting event now and then -- but so do we, and when it's over, we don't have to stay there."

The variety of movies, music, shopping, restaurants, bars, and sporting events is much greater in big cities. Small towns tend to focus on the lowest common denominator, simply because a low population cannot support small niche interests.

John said...

As a semi-proud graduate of Worcester State College (now University) I can tell you that Worcester is loaded with drunken easy college girls that consider a one night stand similar to a handshake. That definitely increased my standard of living back when. Now I live in one of those ex-urbs with a median income of 80k+ and things are fine from here, with basically no NAMs anywhere to be found.