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Oakland, CA

The Bad: The Oakland-Fremont-Hayward area has an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent and the city has one of the highest crime rates in the U.S.

The Good: Oakland is just minutes to downtown San Francisco and has one of the best mass transit systems in the U.S., Sperling says. Plus, several world-class universities are nearby. It has a Mediterranean climate and offers beautiful views of San Francisco Bay. Several major corporations call it home, including Kaiser Permanente and Clorox. It’s also a major West Coast port, with an estimated 200,000 jobs in marine shipping.

The Recovery: The unemployment rate, while high, is down from 11.5 percent in September, and container traffic to this port city is up 14 percent. The city recently struck a deal with China Merchants Holdings to boost cross-Pacific trading. And new mayor Jean Quan is a tireless champion of the city, traveling to New York and Washington, DC, recently to speak about jobs and trade with China.

Photo: David Corby | Wikimedia Commons