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10 Cities That Embody the American Dream

Midland, Texas
Unemployment rate: 4.6%
Walk score: 46
P/I ratio: 2.39
Education Quality Index score: 67.64
In a state that prides itself of lots of business and little unemployment, Midland's made out just a bit better than bigger Texas cities such as Dallas, Houston and Austin.

The big boys don't have a personal or corporate income or capital gains taxes either, but Midland's biggest economic driver is right beneath its feet in the Permian Basin oil fields. Drilling, extraction and energy companies account for a hefty portion of the local economy and keep Midland working when more white-collar towns feel the pinch.

Former President George W. Bush and ex-first lady Laura Bush would argue that the American Dream is alive and well in a town where the gainfully employed can catch a RockHounds game at the Oakland A's Double-A affiliate's Citibank (C) Ballpark, can visit the Museum of the Southwest or the American Airpower Heritage Museum or send their kids to Midland College.

What they won't be able to do, however, is walk to the local grocery store. A solid 57% of Midland requires a car for everyday tasks, and beyond Hundle Heights or a small segment of West Wadley Avenue, Midland's not much to see on foot.

Nor is it much to see from a desk in one of its classrooms. Midland's schools finished dead last not only on this list, but out of the 17 cities with 5% unemployment or less. Early College High School is the only public school with a perfect score among Midland's 43, and it's a quick slide downhill from there. For a double-income family with no children, it's a dream. For a family hoping their kid will be the next president from Midland, its a crapshoot.

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