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Valley has its ups and downs on lists in US

Published: Sun, July 8, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Burton Speakman

and Karl Henkel



As a city in transition, Youngstown appears on many lists. One day the area is ranked as one of the best places in the nation to raise a family, while on another it appears as one of the poorest cities.

The most recent example is Forbes magazine’s rating Youngstown as the lowest city in Ohio in a survey of the best cities for business and careers. The study also placed Youngstown 188th out of the nation’s 200 largest metropolitan areas.

Forbes said its rating was based on job growth [past and projected], costs [business and living], income growth over the past five years, educational attainment and projected economic growth through 2014. It also considers crime rates, cultural and recreational opportunities, net migration patterns and the number of highly rated colleges.

Before that, the Valley appeared on a Brookings Institution list that showed both positive and negative aspects of the area. The Youngstown-Warren-Boardman metro area was rated 95th out of 100 metro areas after losing 46.2 percent of manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010, but the same publication ranked the area third nationally in manufacturing job growth between the first quarter of 2010 and the fourth quarter of 2011 at an 11.7 percent increase.

Even though these types of lists appear to be factual, many still include significant amounts of opinion, said Robert Batchelor, a professor at Kent State University who specializes in pop culture and the media.

The groups that do these lists may use some type of factual basis, but a lot of bias goes into them. They force people to organize on one side or the other on a topic, he said.

“A lot of these are media driven, particularly online sources will use these to drive social media,” Batchelor said. “These are the bread and butter of Facebook and Twitter.”

The entire point is to engage readers in an argument, get them on one side or the other, he said.

“Just for fun, I put a list of the 10,000 most underrated songs and the 10,000 most overrated songs, that I chose personally, on my website. They generated 10,000 hits in one day and that’s normally one month of traffic,” Batchelor said.

Despite the negatives of these polls, some believe they can have legitimate use.

The fact that Youngstown appears on a lot of lists that are both positive and negative indicates the area is undergoing a transition, said Tony Paglia, vice president of government affairs for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber. The chamber attempts to keep track of the various lists the area appears within.

Youngstown was down for a long time, so the city will show up on poverty lists. In addition, when other parts of the country were experiencing a housing boom, higher unemployment kept housing prices down, he said.

“Now low housing prices are a good thing as people look to relocate to the area,” Paglia said.

These surveys serve as a way to show the community has made progress, he said.

Employment has climbed in the region for 23 consecutive months.

“This growth we’re getting now is extraordinarily welcome,” said Cleveland-based economist George Zeller. “Youngstown has a better model than any other city in the state, but we’re still not growing fast enough.”

The Mahoning Valley has the most inexpensive housing among large metro areas: This statistic also dates back to the pre-recession era.

Because Youngstown’s economy has always lagged behind the national average, housing prices, for the most part, were never artificially inflated like those in other areas of the country like California or Florida.

“We were always a moderate economy when it came to home sales,” said Michael D. Klacik, part owner of Klacik Real Estate. “We were not overinflated on our prices like so many areas across the country.”

“I predict over the next few years, you’ll see Youngstown appear on more of the positive lists and less on the negative lists,” Paglia said.

The negative lists will not go away completely. There are still a lot of problems locally, he said.

The information contained in these surveys should not be taken too seriously. There is too much potential to interpret, misinterpret and reinterpret facts, Batchelor said.

“I would not make public policy based on top 10 lists,” he said.


1TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

"As a city in transition..."

Transition from what, hell to "sort of" hell? Reality is a far off place apparently.

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2DwightK(1458 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Property values in the suburbs are low too and very affordable for those who can get the decent jobs in the area. I see Youngstown being on many lists as well. The negative will highlight the problems caused by those who won't be educated and won't work. The positive lists will emphasize the potential that exists for growth and change.

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3lbsurfettes(9 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

How can you expect others to change their opinion of you when you only have negative things to say about this area yourselves? Perhaps the people that live here should stop all the trash talk. As always, there are those that do and those that just sit around and complain.
There are many people in this community actually doing something to create a improved enviroment.
Instead of complaining about the way things used to be get up off your derriere and do something.
Change your story-change your life!

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4jwhitehawke(108 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Bottom Dollar Food will open three 18,000-foot, brightly lit and painted stores within the city... The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which in 2009 set up pickets at Henry Nemenz’s nonunion stores in Sharon, Pa., Hubbard, Poland and Struthers, has already stationed itself outside the Bottom Dollar locations.

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5cambridge(3612 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

This web site could help the valley's image immensely by changing the same two pieces of propriety they've listed for the past three years in the real estate add on the Vindy home page.

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6JoeFromHubbard(1532 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

I believe that Youngstown still has the highest personal income tax rate of any city in Ohio. If the rate were cut in half many more professionals would return to the downtown area.

Once a governing body becomes addicted to an excessive rate of taxation it is virtually impossible to correct the situation.

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7southsidedave(5159 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Who cares about these idiotic lists that are compiled by mindless drones?

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8Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago


Agree 100% I never look or get into the millions of list. There all biased, and never have all the facts, because it'll be impossible to do.

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9dawn421(265 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

ya what is your true identety utica? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm/ you have nothing but crap to say abot the people here so put your money where your big mouth is already, we are waiting

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10JoeFromHubbard(1532 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

@ rustedhulk:

> > demand their fair share from the corporate employers < <

Please explain what is meant by "fair share." This sounds like Occupy Union mentality which
has driven employers away.

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11JoeFromHubbard(1532 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

@ rustedhulk :

>> We have to go back in history to remember what corporations were intended for: short term risk exposure. < <

Sorry, rustedhulk, but your Lemon-Grove-Liberal exposee is out of my league.

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