Special Report

25 Most American Cities

10. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

Cleveland is in many ways an iconic Midwestern American city. It has long struggled with issues of poverty and the decline of manufacturing. Cleveland’s poverty rate of 15.9% is only slightly higher than the national rate of 15.5%. The typical household in the metro area earns about $4,000 less the typical American home, at $49,889 a year compared to $53,657 nationwide. Homeownership and college attainment rates in Cleveland are nearly identical to that of the nation as a whole.

9. St. Louis, MO-IL

While St. Louis lost its National Football League team — by far the most popular American spectator sport — it remains a profoundly American city in other ways. In particular, the city’s jobless rate and the kinds of employment prevalent in the city are similar to the nation as a whole. St. Louis’s unemployment rate of 4.5% is similar to the U.S. rate of 4.7%. Also, the shares of St. Louis workers employed in major industries such as construction, manufacturing, retail, the arts, and professional and scientific occupations are all within a percentage point of comparable U.S. shares.

8. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

America’s founding documents were penned in Philadelphia nearly 250 years ago, and today, the metro area is a microcosm of the nation as a whole in many ways. The shares of the city’s workforce employed in several industries, including construction, public administration, and information, are within a percentage point of the corresponding national shares. Certain health patterns in Philadelphia also closely mirror national trends. For example, roughly 27% of metro area adults are obese, exactly the same as the national obesity rate.

7. Roanoke, VA

In Roanoke, 88.5% of adults have at least a high school diploma, roughly in line the 86.9% of adults nationwide with similar education. Finishing high school is a critical step for achieving financial success in America and has likely helped many metro area residents stay out of poverty. Roanoke’s poverty rate of 14.3% is slightly lower than the 15.5% national rate. A bachelor’s degree can also bolster incomes, and the 27.1% of Roanoke adults who have one is less than the 30.1% national college attainment rate. The typical Roanoke household earns $51,318 annually, only slightly less than the national median household income.

6. Kansas City, MO-KS

Kansas City’s demographic composition is similar but not identical to the national demographic makeup. The city has roughly the same share of black residents, at 12.4% of the population versus a national share of 12.2%. However, the city’s share of whites is about 11 percentage points higher than the national share and the share of Hispanics is about 8 percentage points lower. Though the city’s poverty rate is somewhat lower than that of the nation, incomes are only slightly higher than the national median income. The city is more closely aligned with the U.S. in other measures as well, including homeownership and health insurance coverage rates.

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