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'Bloated,' 'Lofty,' and Out of Work: LA's Newest Claim to Fame

Basically you'd have to be a dead celebrity to afford a house like the Spelling mansion these days (Photo by Atwater Village Newbie via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The folks over at Forbes are taking their cues these days from the late rap icon Tupac Shakur as they explain why they selected Los Angeles as their top pick of America's Most Overpriced Cities. But it's not the cost of pimping your gas-guzzling ride, decking yourself out in bling for a red carpet event, or bathing in champagne that makes life here so expensive. It's actually, well, just plain ol' life here that's overpriced, with our "bloated housing prices, lofty living costs and unemployment rates among the highest in the nation."

So how'd we get this dubious distinction? Forbes explains:

Los Angeles' troubles can be tied to many of the systemic problems currently plaguing the nation. With a whopping unemployment rate of 10.3%, the City of Angels and nearby Riverside, Calif., are among five of the country's 50 largest metro areas with double-digit unemployment. Both have suffered as a result of the housing bust. Though neither ranks among America's emptiest cities, L.A. and Riverside have seen new residential building permit rates plummet 82% and 80%, respectively, over the last two years. The national unemployment rate for construction workers is now 21.1%, up from 12% a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, we're facing what the money mag calls "one of the least affordable housing markets in the country."But why Shakur? Well, it seems it helps to be a dead celebrity--or have the equivalent income--to do well in La-la-land in light of those gloomy circumstances; "the rapper makes about $15 million per year in residuals--despite the fact he's been dead for 12 years." And, if you're not cashing those kinds of paychecks, life may well seem "overpriced" here in L.A.