Dolphins Cheerleaders’ Photographer…the only guy not miserable in Miami
(Forbes) – Miami is a playground for the rich and famous. Celebrities flock to parties at South Beach clubs and then return to their $10 million mansions in Miami Beach and Key Biscayne. It’s a leading city in culture, finance and international trade. But away from the glitz and glamor, many ordinary Miamians are struggling.
A crippling housing crisis has cost multitudes of residents their homes and jobs. The metro area has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country and workers face lengthy daily commutes. Add it all up and Miami takes the top spot in Frobes’ ranking of America’s Most Miserable Cities.
The most famous way to gauge misery is the Misery Index developed by economist Arthur Okun in the 1960s, which combines unemployment and inflation. Forbes take on misery is based on the things that people complain about on a regular basis.
10 factors for the 200 largest metro areas and divisions in the U.S. Some are serious, like violent crime, unemployment rates, foreclosures, taxes (income and property), home prices and political corruption. Other factors we included are less weighty, like commute times, weather and how the area’s pro sports teams did. While sports, commuting and weather can be considered trivial by many, they can be the determining factor in the level of misery for a significant number of people. One tweak to this year’s list: we swapped out sales tax rates for property tax rates. Miami would have finished No. 1 under the old methodology as well.
In Miami there is a growing divide between the top 1% and the rest of the metro area. Life is good for the likes of LeBron James and Latin pop crooner Enrique Iglesias, who’s building a $20 million compound on a private island with girlfriend Anna Kournikova, but if you’re among the 75% of households with an annual income under $75,000, it can be a hard place. The median home price is down 41% the past three years, sixth worst in the country, to $169,000. It’s great news for first-time homebuyers; not so great for the 47% of homeowners in Miami sitting on underwater mortgages.
A whopping 364,000 properties in the Miami area have entered the foreclosure process since 2008, according to RealtyTrac. The number of foreclosure filings slowed in Miami and across the country last year, but the housing market is far from a comeback.
Miami voters are fed up. Last year 88% voted to throw Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez out of office in the biggest recall ever of a municipal government official. They were dissatisfied with property tax hikes he pushed though during Miami’s real estate meltdown, while doling out raises to staffers at the same time. Miami residents were further outraged by the city and county covering 80% of the cost of the Florida Marlins $634 million stadium set to open in April despite the Marlins turning fat profits in recent years.
To replace Alvarez, Miamians selected retired firefighter Carlos Gimenez in an election that featured Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew fame, who famously was brought up on public obscenity charges for performing songs from his album “As Nasty As They Wanna Be.” The controversial rapper, who promoted an exotic dancer tax during his mayoral campaign, finished fourth with 11% of the vote. Consider: 11% of voters thought “Uncle Luke” would be the best choice to run the eighth most populous county in the U.S.