Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: The Midwest's Fastest-Shrinking Cities

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    AP
    President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to Detroit Diesel in Redford, Mich. on Dec. 10, 2012. The Detroit Diesel Corp. used a visit from the president to announce that it will add 115 jobs and invest millions at a huge factory near the city. (AP Photo/Robin Buckson, Pool)

    Since Chicago was named the 4th most miserable city in the U.S. by Forbes last week, and since Forbes seems to believe the nation’s misery is concentrated in the Upper Midwest -- six of the top 10 cities on the list are in Illinois or Michigan -- we thought we’d use statistics to find out what the most miserable city in the region is. We looked at the populations in 1950 -- when most Midwestern cities peaked -- and compared them to the populations in 2010, to determine which place people have been fleeing fastest. 

    The answer is Youngstown, Ohio, which has lost 61 percent of its residents since 1950. Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh all lost around 55 percent. Chicago lost only 27 percent. And Rockford, which was named the 3rd most miserable city, actually increased its population by 60 percent.
    Chicago 
    1950: 3.6 million, Rank: 2
    2010: 2.6 million, Rank: 3
    Percent change: -27  
    Detroit
    1950: 1.8 million, Rank: 5
    2010: 770,000, Rank: 18
    Percent change: -55  
    Cleveland
    1950: 914,000, Rank: 7
    2010: 396,000, Rank: 47
    Percent change: -57  
    Buffalo
    1950: 580,000, Rank: 15
    2010: 261,000, Rank: 72
    Percent change: -55  
    Pittsburgh
    1950: 676,000, Rank: 12
    2010: 305,000, Rank: 61
    Percent change: -55 
    Milwaukee
    1950: 637,000, Rank: 13
    2010: 594,000, Rank: 28
    Percent change: -6 
    St. Louis
    1950: 856,000, Rank: 8
    2010: 316,000, Rank: 58
    Percent change: -63 
    Minneapolis
    1950: 521,000, Rank: 17
    2010: 382,000, Rank: 48
    Percent change: -27 
    Rockford
    1950: 92,000, Rank: off the charts
    2010: 152,000, Rank: off the charts
    Percent change: +60
    Gary
    1950: 133,000, Rank: 71
    2010: 81,000, Rank: off the charts
    Percent change: -38
    Flint
    1950: 163,000, Rank: 60
    2010: 102,000, Rank: off the charts
    Percent change: -37
    Youngstown
    1950: 168,000, Rank: 57
    2010: 66,000, Rank: off the charts
    Percent change: -61