Special Report

The Best and Worst Run Cities in America

5. Cleveland, Ohio
> Violent crime per 1,000 people: 12.97 (8th highest)
> Poverty rate: 34.0% (3rd highest)

> Adult population graduated from high school: 77.7% (19th lowest)
> Credit rating: A1 (stable outlook)
> Population: 396,240

Cleveland has grown exceptionally poor since its days as a major manufacturing center. Census data from 2010 show that one out of every three Cleveland residents lives in poverty, placing the city among the poorest large American cities. Cleveland also has the second-lowest median household income, at just $25,977, as well as a particularly high rate of violent crime. In addition, Cleveland is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, which is in the midst of a tremendous corruption scandal, centered around County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

Also Read: Best and Worst Run States in America

4. San Bernardino, Calif.
> Violent crime per 1,000 people: 8.15 (31st highest)
> Poverty rate: 34.6% (2nd highest)
> Adult population graduated from high school: 64.1% (2nd lowest)
> Credit rating: not rated
> Population: 210,670

San Bernardino is the third city from California to make our top worst-run cities list. Its economy has arguably been hit harder by the subprime mortgage crisis than any other major U.S. city. Between 2007 and 2010, median home value dropped 55%, from $327,000 to just $147,200. Along with the massive loss in home values, unemployment rates have skyrocketed to the third-highest in the country among the largest cities. The city also has a poverty rate of nearly 35%. Just 64.1% of adults have a high school diploma.

3. Newark, N.J.
> Violent crime per 1,000 people: 10.29 (21st highest)
> Poverty rate: 30.2% (10th highest)
> Adult population graduated from high school: 69.2% (6th lowest)
> Credit rating: A3 (negative outlook)
> Population: 277,232

Newark has a very high rate of poverty, reaching 30.2% in 2010. Its median household income is $32,043 — the ninth lowest among the 100 largest cities. Less than 70% of the adult population has a high school diploma or more — the sixth lowest rate. Meanwhile, Newark’s violent crime rate has been increasing. In late November 2010, the city laid off nearly 15% of its police force. By May 2011, the annual murder rate had increased a stunning 65%. Robberies, burglaries and thefts increased as well.

2. Detroit, Mich.
> Violent crime per 1,000 people: 18.87 (the highest)
> Poverty rate: 37.6% (the highest)
> Adult population graduated from high school: 77.4% (18th lowest)
> Credit rating: Ba3 (on review)
> Population: 711,910

Despite being more notorious for its troubles than any other major U.S. city, Detroit managed to avoid the title of worst-run city in the country. The city has been in a tough spot for decades, but continued problems with corruption and poor management have not helped matters. Detroit already sports the worst credit rating awarded by Moody’s and is the only one of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. to have a rating below investment grade. Worse still, the rating agency is currently reviewing the Ba3 rating — which already had a negative outlook — after the state of Michigan announced it was evaluating whether the city’s troubles constituted an economic crisis. Of the 100 largest cities, Detroit has the highest home vacancy rate, the highest unemployment rate, the highest poverty rate, the worst violent crime rate and the lowest median household income.

1. Miami, Fla.
> Violent crime per 1,000 people: 11.08 (13th highest)
> Poverty rate: 32.4% (5th highest)
> Adult population graduated from high school: 68.2% (4th lowest)
> Credit rating: A2 (stable outlook)
> Population: 400,892

According to a 2011 UBS study, Miami is the richest city in the country and the fourth richest city in the world by domestic purchasing power. However, a 2011 study by the Census Bureau found the Miami metropolitan area also had the second-highest income inequality rate in the nation — probably due to the incredibly high percentage of households living below the poverty line. Despite the city’s wealth, Miami’s median household income of $27,291 is the third smallest among the 100 biggest cities. Its poverty rate of 32.4% is the fifth highest. The city faces a handful of other problems. Only 68.2% of adults have a high school diploma or more — the fourth lowest rate. Also, 22.5% of housing units are vacant, which is the fifth highest percentage. A 2011 Brookings Institute report put Miami among the 20 weakest-performing metropolitan statistical areas in the country with regards to recovering from the recession, due in large part to the crash of its housing market.

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