Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cleveland: A Stressful City? Or Just Cloudy?

Forbes Magazine has listed Cleveland Ohio as one of the top 5 stressful cities in the United States. The list shows Cleveland as #4, tied with Providence, RI. Most specifically, the list groups the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor Ohio area as a whole, which is a five county area defined by the Metropolitan Statistical Area as Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Geauga County, Lake County (Mentor), Lorain County (Elyria), and Medina County. Elyria and Mentor are about 50-60 miles apart, with the city of Cleveland in between.

According to Forbes Magazine , the criteria used to rank these cities was as follows:

To find the most stressful cities, we examined quality of life factors in the country's 40 largest metropolitan statistical areas, or metros--geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for use by federal agencies in collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics. We looked at June 2009 unemployment figures provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and cost of living figures from the Council for Community and Economic Research. We examined median home-price drops from Q1 2008 to Q1 2009 that were provided by the National Association of Realtors. Population density based on 2008 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and ESRI also factored. Last, we examined the number of sunny and partly sunny days per year, based on 2007 data from the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, as well as air quality figures, based on 2007 data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sunny and party sunny days? This is a serious measurement? I can tell you that the weather problem in the Cleveland area, especially east of the city in the “snow belt” is not sunny or partly sunny days, it’s the lake effect snow in the winter. And we really can’t help that now, can we? By the way, even though Mentor and Elyria are just a short distance apart, Elyria is west of the city, and it's east of the city (Lake and Geauga counties) that are in the heart of the snow belt. I admit it is no fun getting “snow-belted” every year, but we have learned to live with it.

I also object to the inclusion of Elyria and Mentor (the latter being my home town by the way) in this list since these places are nothing like Cleveland proper. Speaking for my own community of Mentor here in Lake County, it is a great city with the largest beach in the state, Mentor Headlands, it’s the home of our 20th president, James A. Garfield(now a National Historic site), and it’s one of the top retail centers in the state of Ohio and home to many businesses. It’s clean, it’s got beautiful homes and great schools. As the Forbes list includes Lake County as a whole, the area also is proud of its many wineries, the shores of Lake Erie being a perfect place to grow wine grapes.

Cleveland also has many great things going for it, such as world renowned medical care, the world class Cleveland Orchestra, Playhouse Square, and many museums. Many large corporations make Cleveland their home and the downtown area is a vibrant place to work, live, be entertained, and have great food.

There is no doubt that the Cleveland inner city has been hit hard with the banking home mortgage collapse and the resulting vacant or abandoned homes. There are areas, like in many big cities, that are considered “bad” neighborhoods. In that aspect, I will agree that those people living there are faced with stress. But Forbes does the area a complete disservice by lumping such a large area with such diverse living conditions, and then making sunny days, or the lack thereof, part of the measurement.

My opinion is that Forbes list does more to add to the stress of residents than whether the sun is completely shining. Last year, Forbes reported that Cleveland was a dying city. Well, their report of the death of Cleveland was greatly exaggerated. We’re still here, now we are just stressed.

You can find the full Forbes Magazine Stressful Cities list here.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information,
All Things Cleveland Ohio, here.

No comments: