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Baltimore, MD

The Bad: Another victim of deindustrialization, Baltimore has struggled to reinvent itself. It made the list because it rated high on traffic congestion, and low on health and school quality, according to city-data.com. The unemployment rate is at 7.5 percent, not too bad, but the recovery isn’t as strong as many had hoped.

The Good: Baltimore is the largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic, offering access to major midwestern markets. It’s home to several large corporations, including Constellation Energy and T.Rowe Price, as well as Johns Hopkins Hospital. Sperling adds that it has diverse, historical neighborhoods (so much so that it has been dubbed the “city of neighborhoods”) and its surrounding suburbs often win awards as best places to live. Sperling says it has great higher-ed institutions, arts and culture and medical resources, as well as plentiful mass-transit options.

The Recovery: Even though the jobs recovery hasn’t panned out yet, home buying is on the rise as depressed prices have made real estate more attractive. The city has been trying to set up a biotech park to generate health-care jobs but after some bumps in the road they’re now more focused on revitalization of the area with restaurants, shops and services like a health club and a gym. The city is experimenting with a local currency to help keep money in the local economy.

Photo: Vic Bider | Stone | Getty Images