Devastation Destinations: 5 Towns Walloped By The Recession

  • Elkhart, Ind.

    UNEMPLOYMENT: Atrocious. 16.7%, which is well above the national average (9.7%). POPULATION: 80,000. FORECLOSURES: 1 in every 2,214 homes is in foreclosure as of August 2009. SADDEST STORY: From Gabriela, quoted in "'I’m very sad,' she said softly in Spanish, tears welling in her dark eyes as she surveyed the cozy, two-bedroom tract home. Its walls, carpet and gleaming appliances were nearly as spotless as the day the family bought it, brand new, in 2005. The hardest thing, she said, is her three kids 'asking how long before we come back home.'" Elkhart has been the site of a large federally subsidized job retraining program that has thus far been unsuccessful at getting folks back to work. RAY OF HOPE: Elkhart is the subject of's ongoing reporting project, The Elkhart Project, which may draw more attention to the region's woes... and pressure bureaucrats to get their act together. Photo Credit: royalbroil
    Flint, Mich.
  • Flint, Mich.

    UNEMPLOYMENT: Soul-crushing. 17.6% of metropolitan Flint is unemployed. POPULATION: 124,943. FORECLOSURES: 1 in every 9,862 homes is in foreclosure as of August 2009. SADDEST STORY: Violent and senseless crime, spurred on by decades of decline and weakened faith in industry. Flint is, after all, the subject of Michael Moore's 1989 documentary "Roger & Me." This unsettling news brief is unfortunately a typical example of the city's crime: "A 21-year-old Flint man was shot to death early Thursday as he arrived home. Jovaun Wells had just returned to his home on Mackin Road near Milbourne Avenue about 1:30 a.m. when he was shot in the backyard." ( RAY OF HOPE: General Motors (Stock Quote: GM) plans to invest more than $21 million to build the 2011 Chevrolet light-duty crew cab at its Flint assembly plant, which will hopefully boost morale and chip away at that high unemployment rate. Photo Credit: nesjumpman
    Las Vegas
  • Las Vegas

    UNEMPLOYMENT: Really unlucky. Close to 20%, according to some. POPULATION: 538,653. FORECLOSURES: 1 in every 14,880 homes is in foreclosure as of August 2009. SADDEST STORY: From Ellen, quoted in "'The scariest question in an interview is 'Tell me about yourself.' Well, I don't know because I really don't want to tell them about myself. What am I going to tell these people - right at the moment I'm homeless because I was stupid enough to move across the country without more money?'" She is one of 183,000 people in Nevada out of work, and the big casinos aren't exactly hiring... Vegas' gambling revenue fell 11% in July. RAY OF HOPE: Although Vegas may be hurting, it remains America's playground. We'll be back once we have that whole "crushing credit card debt" thing behind us. Promise. Photo Credit: http2007
    Stockton, Calif.
  • Stockton, Calif.

    UNEMPLOYMENT: Not exactly sunny. 16%. POPULATION: 280,000. FORECLOSURES: 1 in every 2,853 homes is in foreclosure as of August 2009. SADDEST STORY: Early on in the economic meltdown, Stockton became a favorite among mainstream media outlets looking to cover the drastic rise in home foreclosures. At one point back in 2007, the city held the dubious honor of "Foreclosure Capital USA" with 1 in every 27 households facing foreclosure. Stockton is also home to a growing number of utterly depressing tent shelters. From Ruben, a worker quoted in the Stockton Record: "'Many times, when you work in the fields, you're paying money to the guy who gives you a ride, you're paying for your lunch, you have to pay to wash your clothes at some point,' he said. 'If you're renting an apartment too, how much are you going to send to Mexico, $5? It costs more to get the letter there.'" RAY OF HOPE: According to the city's Web site, Stockton is "undergoing a tremendous economic expansion and is aggressively revitalizing its downtown" area. The city is just 60 miles east of the San Francisco Bay Area, so if that larger economy heats up, it could give Stockton a much-needed boost as well. Photo Credit: inman news
    El Centro, Calif.
  • El Centro, Calif.

    UNEMPLOYMENT: Apocalyptic. The El Centro metro area has a 30.2% unemployment rate. POPULATION: 42,002. FORECLOSURES: 1 in every 262 homes is in foreclosure as of August 2009. SADDEST STORY: El Centro was named one of the "hottest cities for entrepreneurs" by Inc. Magazine... back in May 2006. Good luck getting that award again. RAY OF HOPE: None whatsoever. Photo Credit: bberburb
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