By Chris Matthews
December 9, 2015

It’s been a great four years for homeowners, who have seen home values rise more than 30% since the beginning of 2012, according to the Case-Shiller 20-city composite index.

But beneath the numbers that describe a breathtaking rally in the value of the American home, there are dozens of markets that have been left behind. This is in part because real estate values fluctuate based on local trends, like the strength of the regional job market. But there are characteristics of this particular housing recovery that made it rough going for certain housing markets, like those with a higher concentration of what had been subprime borrowers during the mid-2000s real estate bubble.

Real-estate data firm Trulia dug into the housing numbers and compiled a list of the ten worst places to own a home since the start of the real estate recovery back in 2012. They looked at data like home values and vacancy rates in more than 350 metro areas across the United States. They combined that data with labor market indicators like wage growth, employment growth, and the change in the unemployment rate. The logic is that even if housing prices are rising, that might do a homeowner little long-term financial good if the area the home is in has little wage growth and lousy employment prospects.

According to these measurements, the following are the worst cities to have owned a home in the past four years:

In many ways, this list shows just how much the U.S. economy has improved over the past four years. Even in these cities, where home value appreciation and job growth were the worst in the country, home values in some of these cities actually appreciated, and employment growth in all of these cities was positive.

At the same time, relative to the country overall, these cities were not a great place to be a homeowner since 2012. Here’s what Trulia Data Analyst Felipe Chacon has to say about them:

Cities like Albuquerque, N.M.; Gary, Ind.; and Silver Spring, Md., were some of the worst places to own post-housing bottom. All of the cities on this list have performed below average on both labor market metrics and housing market metrics. In Albuquerque, for example, home of Sandia National Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, and the University of New Mexico, the government sector comprises nearly 21% of all employment compared with 14% nationally. With tight state, local and federal budgets, a more robust employment expansion has been hampered since prior to 2012. In Gary, Ind., slow employment growth and net out migration during the past two years have kept home value appreciation to a minimum. Silver Spring on the other hand, has seen moderate price appreciation since 2012, but the vacancy rate has been climbing steadily and labor market improvements have been modest.

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