Harlingen's title as 'cheapest place to live' challenged by unemployed man

Benito Flores is on the hunt for a job.

The 48-year-old Harlingen resident is a machine worker by trade.

He TMs been out of work for nearly a month.

Flores was forced to move in with his brother to save on expenses.

He said living in the City of Harlingen, an area recently dubbed in a Bloomberg Businessweek magazine article as "cheapest place to live," brought him little comfort.

"Because there's no work," he said.

The cost of living in Harlingen is about 18 percent below the national average, the lowest level in the U.S., according to research figures from the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011 as reported in the article.

Housing, groceries, utilities, transportation costs along with basic goods and services helped to calculate the cost of living, the report stated.

Harlingen scored exceptionally low in those categories.

But Flores said he continued to struggle to make ends meet.

"They start you off at minimum wage...everyone wants to do that... even with the experience you got," he explained.

Administrators at Workforce Solutions Cameron, a job placement and training services agency, don't necessarily disagree with Flores' perception.

But Juan Garcia, deputy director at Workforce Solutions Cameron, said many factors dictate who would ultimately benefit from living in the so-called "cheapest city."

"Even though goods and services might be less expensive, the poverty rate and the unemployment rate put together... That offsets those benefits so to speak," Garcia said.

Figures from Workforce Solutions Cameron put both the unemployment and poverty rates in Cameron County well above the national, even state average.

"The fact that folks are unemployed and having a hard time getting employment would offset the fact that the city is cheapest to live at," Garcia said.

And while Flores may be living in the "cheapest city," he's adamant that he is reaping little benefits from that title.Click here to read the Bloomberg Businessweek articleClick here to join Ryan Wolf's Facebook page