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Roanoke, Va.
Foreclosure rate: One in every 103 homes
Percent increase: 353%
National rank: 145th
Unemployment rate: 7.1%

Roanoke ranks in the bottom third of U.S. metro areas for foreclosure filings, but they still saw a whopping 1,537% rise in 2009 compared with two years earlier.

It's not because there was any bubbling at work here. "We've been pretty stable," said Susan Lower, the director of real estate valuation for the City of Roanoke. She said prices never went up by more than about 8% in a single year.

The area economy has also remained relatively stable, with the regional hospital center being the largest employer. There are also several universities nearby, including big Virginia Tech and Virginia Military Institute.

Roanoke is also a transportation center, a formerly important railroad town that lies halfway between Knoxville, Tenn., and Richmond, Va., with no cities of any size in between.



Job losses jumped significantly last year to 7.1% from 4.4%. There were no mass layoffs but there has been an accumulation of small cutbacks that added up.

There were 120 jobs lost at Freight Car America last January; 104 at Salem Preferred partners a couple of months before that; 54 at Sportsman Warehouse last March. With consumer spending off, stores in the Valley View Mall, a big regional attraction, lost employment.

All those losses has been enough to send more households into foreclosure and, since there were so few filings the year before, the increase seems especially dramatic. It's important to note, however, that even with the huge increase, the Roanoke metro area still ranks in the bottom third of U.S. cities in foreclosure.

NEXT: Sioux Falls, S.D.
Last updated February 01 2010: 3:46 PM ET
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