Detroit 'savaged' by economic problems
23 December 2011 Last updated at 23:08 GMT
The US economy is struggling to avoid falling back into recession, and the gap between rich and poor is at its largest for 30 years.
Detroit has been particularly badly hit by the downturn, and is a city struggling with unemployment, poverty, debt and crime.
The BBC's North America correspondent Ian Pannell has been to Detroit to see how residents are coping.