Cheers and Jeers: National Surveys Find Southeast Michigan Sad, Booming, Smart

11/30/11Follow @XconomyDET

Another day, another (wholly unscientific) survey from Men’s Health indicating Detroit is a crappy place to live. This time, they’ve named the Motor City the second saddest city in the United States; in August, the lad mag skewered residents of our fair city for not buying iPads fast enough.

This time around, they’ve created their list of top “frown towns” by culling suicide-rate data from the Centers for Disease Control and unemployment figures through June 2011 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also used SimplyMap to determine the percentage of households that use antidepressants, as well as the number of people who report feeling blue all or most of the time. So which cities, according to the Men’s Health methodology, were the happiest? Honolulu; Manchester, NH; and Fargo, ND.

Since this Detroiter, for one, doesn’t care to dwell in the negative, let’s take a look at some of the other headlines floating around lately:

  • Last week, the Associated Press found that Michigan’s drop in unemployment during October 2011 was one of the highest in the nation.
  • The Business Journals reported that Ann Arbor, MI is the smartest U.S. city with 100,000 or more residents. In Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, a whopping 72 percent of all adults age 25 or older hold a bachelor’s degree. (Incidentally, Ann Arbor beat out two other Xconomy towns—Cambridge, MA and Berkeley, CA—for brainiest city honors.)
  • Forbes called Detroit the 40th best place in the nation to land a tech job. I know what you’re thinking. “40th? Big whoop!” Maybe, but the magazine also had this to say: “How about other potential up and comers for the coming decade? … The first: Detroit. Though the Motor City area lost 20 percent of its tech jobs in the past decade (ranking 40th on our list), it still boasts one of the nation’s largest concentrations of tech workers, nearly 50 percent above the national average. In the past two years, the region has experienced a solid 7.7 percent increase in technology jobs, the second highest rate of any metro area. The Motor City region seems to have some real high-tech mojo. According to the website Dice.com, Detroit has led the nation with the fastest growth in technology job offerings since February—at 101 percent. This can be traced to the rejuvenated auto industry, which is increasingly dependent on high-tech skills. Manufacturing is increasingly prodigious driver of tech jobs; games and dot-coms are not the only path to technical employment growth.”
  • According to a recent U-M forecast, Michigan is on target to end 2011 with a net gain of jobs—something that hasn’t happened in more than a decade.

So forget you, Men’s Health. I was stuck in Fargo for a day in the 1990s during a road trip from Michigan to Montana. What I remember about Fargo is the dearth of open prarie, ghost town streets, and that the best meal I ate there came from Subway. I think I’ll stay in Detroit.

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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