Once upon a time, we had ghost towns. Cities that boomed and went bust based on a single industry, leading to the community being abandoned. Now we have in America ‘Ghost Counties’, large areas of the United States facing high unemployment rates, high foreclosure rates and vacancy rates of 55% or more. 24/7 Wall Street has come up with a list of the top 10 American ghost counties, some of which had once been top U.S. tourist destinations. Now they face urban decay and uncertain, if not pessimistic, futures.
The list of the top 10 American ghost counties include some formerly high-flying spots. Las Vegas, Nevada is one as well as Palm Coast and Cape Coral, Florida. Like Nevada, Florida was hit hard when the housing bubble burst. Lee County and Osceola County have experienced sharp increases in vacancy rates. Arizona was also hit hard, especially in Yuma County and Mohave County.
The worst hit was Lake County, Michigan, which ranked Number One on the 24/7 Wall Street list. The population has declined to just over 11,000 people with nearly 15,000 homes, giving it a vacancy rate of 66%. Once a popular vacation spot known for its excellent freshwater fishing, the sagging economy has forced most of those who owned second homes in Lake County to abandon them. Vilas County, Wisconsin tells a similar story just under 22,000 people and more than 25,000 homes, giving it a vacancy rate of 62%. Again, Vilas County was a popular vacation spot and also once had lumber industry which has declined.
Number 3 on the list is Summit County, Colorado with a vacancy rate of 61%, followed by Worcester County, Maryland at 60%. Mono County, CA near Yosemite National Park is 5th with a 59% vacancy rate. Number 6 is Dare County, NC at 57%. Close behind it is Dukes County, Massachusetts, located on the island of Martha′s Vineyard with 57% vacancy as well. Bringing up the rear are Sawyer County, WI with 56% vacancy, Burnett County, WI with 55% and Aitkin County, MN, also with a 55% vacancy rate.
As we see from the list, nearly all of the top 10 American ′ghost counties′ were once top U.S.tourist and vacation destinations, which are generally seasonal. They also are mostly places where people from larger urban areas would buy a second home in for vacations. As the economy continues to sputter and gasoline prices remain high, we can see where more communities making the 24/7 Wall Street list of American Ghost Towns and Counties will appear in the 21st Century. The high unemployment and foreclosure rates and other signs in the United States of the failed economic agenda of the Barack Obama presidency.