America's Uneven Economic Recovery: The 10 Best and 10 Worst Cities

Washington DC
Washington DC

For the past few months, reports have repeatedly affirmed that the economy is slowly improving. However, as one recent study highlights, some areas are recovering much faster than others. In fact, depending on where you live, the future may be bright ... or bleak.

Last week, CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling service, released the Consumer Distress Index, which cataloged the rates of economic recovery across America. Based on 65 surveys conducted by the federal government, private credit companies, and other groups, CredAbility's index analyzes employment, housing, credit, household budget and net worth statistics to determine which areas of the country are surging ahead and which are lagging behind.

Mark Cole, executive vice president and chief operations officer for CredAbility, notes that, while the country is recovering, "people at different levels are experiencing the recovery at very different speeds." This has been especially hard on the middle class: "The average family is still lagging behind," Cole says. "For them, it's been a slow, grinding recovery."

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When it comes to individual states, CredAbility's survey paints an optimistic picture. In comparison to the last quarter of 2011, situations have improved across the country, and no states are classed as being in the lowest "Emergency Crisis" level. On the other hand, none garner the top rating of "Excellent, Secure," and only two achieve the B-level "Good, Stable" rating.

On the citywide level, the economic situation varies widely. Currently, CredAbility ranks the distress levels of America's 25 largest cities, and the company plans to extend its survey to the top 75 later this year. While their list has a few limitations -- for example, some states, like Nevada, don't have any cities in the top 25, while others have several -- it gives a glimpse of the best and worst metropolitan areas to live right now. For a look at the winners and losers, click on the gallery below.

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Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at@bruce1971.

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