Known as the "Soybean Capital of the World" and the place where a barefoot 19-year-old named Abraham Lincoln gave his first stump speech, Decatur exudes a certain prairie stability. It missed most of the housing bubble.
Home sales prices peaked in 2006, with the median single-family home going for $85,400. Then home sales prices fell to $83,100 the following year. Ever since, they've trended up, according to NAR data released earlier this month. In the second quarter of 2010, home sales prices had reached a new high of $96,000. (The US median price, by contrast, is $179,000, which is 21 percent below the 2006 peak.)
Decatur has not escaped other symptoms of the great recession. Unemployment is still a high 12.2 percent and the population has fallen 6 percent since 2000. Still, as headquarters city for food-processor giant Archer Daniels Midland, the metro area is seeing employment start to grow again.