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Birmingham, AL

The Bad: Birmingham is a classic case of a city fighting to reinvent itself amid deindustrialization after once being a powerhouse in iron and steel. Its unemployment rate is at 8.4 percent, it has one of the highest crime rates in the U.S. and it’s prone to tornadoes.

The Good: Birmingham has been named as one of America’s best places to work as salaries are competitive and living expenses are low. In fact, the city sales tax is just 4 percent. Plus, it has good schools, several universities and a lot of cultural institutions. And Sperling notes there are a lot of “nice older suburban neighborhoods surrounding the city.”

The Recovery: “The city is experiencing a major economic turnaround, transitioning from steel to 21st century manufacturing, research, medicine, finance and technology,” Sperling said. More than $1 billion has been spent revitalizing downtown.

Photo: Walter Bibikow | The Image Bank