Residents Feel Least Safe in Fresno, Most Safe in Des Moines

Fresno, Calif., got another black eye. Gallup has named it the city where people are least likely to feel safe. It is also one of the American cities with the highest unemployment, at 11.2% in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The results come from a Gallup-Healthways study of well-being. The survey size was a random sample of 176,702 adults, according to Gallup. The cities included were the top 100 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).

Fresno was the tip of additional trouble in California cities. Among the 10 MSAs with the worst outcomes were Stockton and Bakersfield, as described as “communities where people feel the least safe and secure.” Fresno’s rate was 62.7%, Stockton 62.9% and Bakersfield 63.5%. Also among the top 10 were Memphis at 65.9%; Youngstown, Ohio, at 66.8%; Toledo at 67.8%; Las Vegas at 68.1%; New Orleans at 68.3%; Lakewater, Fla., at 69.1%; and Daytona Beach at 69.2%.

Coincidentally, in most cases, these are cities where employment and housing were hit very hard during the recession.

At the best end of the list, the communities where residents “feel most safe and secure,” were leader Des Moines at 85.7%; Raleigh at 84.8%; Boise at 84.5%; Honolulu at 82.6%; Provo, Utah, at 82.5%; Winston-Salem at 82.2%; Ogden, Utah, at 82.1%; Colorado Springs at 82.1%; Omaha at 81.9%; and Austin at 81.5%.

ALSO READ: The Happiest (and Most Miserable) Cities in America

Also coincidentally, many of the cities on the safest list have had strong employment for years. Provo has an unemployment rate of 3.2% in March, while Omaha’s was 3.1% and Honolulu’s 3.6%, for example.

Gallup ties feelings of safety to “prosperity for economic growth and development.” Of course, the relationship could work the other way around.

Notes on methodology:

Unlike previous years, only the 100 most populous metros — as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau — were reported in 2014. A second requirement is that at least 300 cases are required per metro area for reporting.


The “communities” referenced in this article are based on MSAs as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. In many cases, more than one city is included in the same MSA. The San Jose, California, MSA, for example, also includes the smaller nearby cities of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara in addition to San Jose. Each respondent is attributed to his or her MSA based on self-reports of his or her ZIP code.

ALSO READ: Cities With the Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.