Answer: They are among the most rapidly dying cities in the country, according to Forbes. Using economic and demographic data, the business mag charted where people were fleeing the most and where GDP growth was weakest from 2001 through 2005.
Nearly every city in the country grew during this period (New Orleans, devastated from Hurricane Katrina, was the notable exception), but the struggling cities on our list grew more sluggishly. None of them grew more than 1.9% a year, versus a nationwide average of 2.7%. Canton, Ohio, managed to grow its economy just 0.7% annually. Flint was worse still at 0.4%.
None of these cities now face the huge declines in real estate prices seen by Phoenix, Miami or Las Vegas, where the Case-Shiller Home Price Index shows nearly 30% declines from a year ago. Detroit is off only about 15%, Cleveland only 8%. Don't call it a bright spot. Prices never went up in the first place.
For the full list, depressing pictures, and more, go here.