Las Vegas or Detroit? America's emptiest city

It was brought to my attention by a business associate, Howard Brown, CEO of CircleBuilder Software, that there is one city that rivals Detroit in resembling a ghost town as of late and that is Las Vegas. Howard's home base is in Michigan (I'm in California) and we converse frequently about the economy and our business dealings several times a week.

It is hard not to despair at least a little about the demise of the US auto industry, and the sad fact that Michigan has the highest level of unemployment in the nation of any state. California ranks third, with budget deficits as far as the eye can see topping $40 billion at last estimate.

The Americas Emptiest Cities rankings at Forbes combine rental and homeowner vacancy rates for the 75 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, based on fourth-quarter data released Feb. 3 by the Census Bureau. Las Vegas edged Detroit for the title of America's emptiest city. Atlanta came in third, followed by Greensboro, N.C., and Dayton, Ohio.

The demise of the auto industry has contributed in a big way to Detroit's diminishing prosperity. However, Las Vegas was booming as recently as 2007 but the building boom and housing speculation went into the stratosphere and while the hotel of that name still stands, market prices for housing and land have come crashing down by 50% or more!

Will these cities ever return to prosperity? I think they will. Will they return to their heights? That I do not believe. Will they improve soon? No way!

Sheldon Liberis the CEO of a small private investment company and the principal for design and research at an architecture & planning firm. He writes the columns Chasing Value and Serious Money.Disclosure: I own shares of CircleBuilder, a private company .

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