In assessing the best- and worst-run cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from a number of sources for the 100 largest cities in the country, as measured by the 2011 Census population numbers. The data we considered was city specific, with the exception of Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) which we obtained from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and was for the city’s corresponding metropolitan statistical area. Unemployment rates were taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. General obligation debt ratings were provided by Moody’s Investors Services, and are as of January 1, 2013. Violent crime rates were obtained from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. We relied on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for income and poverty data, as well as graduation rates, health insurance coverage, and the change in home values between 2007 and 2011. Newly considered this year were changes in GMP, provided by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and foreclosure rates for the fourth quarter of 2011, provided by RealtyTrac. Once we reviewed the sources and compiled the final metrics, we ranked each city based on its performance in all the categories. A few cities did not have credit ratings or violent crime rates; they were neither rewarded nor penalized for the missing data. All ranks, unless otherwise specified, are for the 100 largest cities. All data, unless otherwise specified, is for the full year 2011.
Samuel Weigley, Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E.M. Hess