10. Morristown, Tenn.
>Median household income: $35,027
>Population: 137,494 (81st lowest)
>Unemployment rate: 11.0% (52nd highest)
>Pct. households below poverty line: 20.0% (68th highest)
Morristown depends on manufacturing, which employed 24.7% of all area workers last year, the eighth-highest percentage of any metropolitan area. In 2010, 20.3% of the workforce worked in the sector. Aside from manufacturing, Morristown has struggled recently. The area’s unemployment rate was 11% last year, down from 11.7% in 2010 but still considerably higher than in 2007 when it was just 5.1%. The area’s median income also fell from $39,850 in 2007 to $35,027 in 2011. The percentage of households that earned in excess of $200,000 a year also fell, from 3.9% to 1.3% during the same time.
9. Cumberland, Md.- W. Va.
>Median household income: $34,819
>Population: 102,884 (28th lowest)
>Unemployment rate: 8.2% (163rd lowest)
>Pct. households below poverty line: 19.2% (88th highest)
Between 2007 and 2011, the median income in Cumberland dropped by $3,787 to $34, 819. Yet in the same time period, the median home value rose by 11.5%. In 2011, 10.7% of the area’s homes were valued at less than $50,000, a drop from 13.3% of houses in 2010 and 15.3% of houses in 2007. Despite the increase in home prices, the median home value of $122,300 in the Cumberland area was more than $50,000 less than the median national home price in 2011. Rent is also considerably cheaper in the area than in most cities nationwide. The median rent was just $533, the second-lowest of all metro areas.
8. Jonesboro, Ark.
>Median household income: $34,673
>Population: 121,569 (55th lowest)
>Unemployment rate: 7.6% (116th lowest)
>Pct. households below poverty line: 22.5% (33rd highest)
From 2007 to 2011, Jonesboro lost over 6,000 jobs, with the total number of workers falling to 48,903. In just the last year, more than 2,500 jobs were lost, while the manufacturing industry’s share of employment fell from 16.3% to 11.8%. As of 2011, the median home price in Jonesboro was just $101,500, while 14.7% of homes were worth less than $50,000. This was actually a significant improvement from 2007, when of 19.2% of homes were worth less than $50,000. The rental market was also quite weak last year when median gross monthly rent was just $601, $270 below the national figure.
7. Hot Springs, Ark.
>Median household income: $34,251
>Population: 97,124 (18th lowest)
>Unemployment rate: 8.3% (173rd lowest)
>Pct. households below poverty line: 21.8% (37th highest)
The 2011 median income of Hot Springs residents was $3,137 less than in 2010, a much sharper drop than the country as a whole. The low median income has much to do with the more than 17% of workers that were employed in retail — the fourth-highest of all metro areas and considerably higher than the 11.6% across the country. In 2010, just over 14% of workers were employed in retail. Meanwhile, 6% of the workforce was employed in professional, scientific and management positions in 2011, down from 7% in 2010. The median home value in Hot Springs fell by 6% from 2010 and more than $48,000 below the U.S. median.
6. Monroe, La.
>Median household income: $34,036
>Population: 177,651 (138th lowest)
>Unemployment rate: 7.7% (123rd lowest)
>Pct. households below poverty line: 27.9% (8th highest)
While median income across the country dropped by $642 between 2010 and 2011, it plummeted by a whopping $5,434 in the Monroe area. The poverty rate rose an astounding seven percentage points from 2010 to 2011, sitting at just under 28% of the area. In fact, 11.4% of households earned less than $10,000 in 2011, the third-highest percentage of all metro areas. The median home value of $109,900, while in the bottom quintile of all home values in the U.S., rose in 2011 about 2% from 2010 and about 10% from 2007.