Special Report

Worst Cities to Live in Every State

Source: Thinkstock

46. Virginia
> Worst city to live: Norfolk
> Population: 246,393
> Median home value: $204,800
> Poverty rate: 20.5%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.6%

Home to nearly a quarter million people, Norfolk is one of the most populous cities in Virginia. Based on a number of socioeconomic measures, it is also the worst city in the state in which to live. The typical Norfolk household earns only about $46,000 a year, well below the statewide median household income of $66,300. A high cost of living compounds financial problems for many area residents. Goods and services in Norfolk cost about 9% more than they do on average nationwide.

As is the case with nearly every city on this list, Norfolk is far more dangerous than its home state as a whole. There were 542 violent crimes in Norfolk for every 100,000 residents in 2015, nearly three times the statewide rate.

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47. Washington
> Worst city to live: Yakima
> Population: 93,700
> Median home value: $158,200
> Poverty rate: 22.0%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 19.1%

Yakima faces a number of greater economic challenges than much of the rest of the state. Some 6.8% of the city’s labor force is out of a job, compared to a 2015 statewide unemployment rate of only 5.7%. A weak job market may contribute to lower incomes. The typical Yakima household earns only $44,050 a year, roughly $20,000 less than the median household income statewide. Additionally, 22% of Yakima residents live below the poverty line, the largest share of any city in the state, and nearly 10 percentage points higher than the statewide rate.

Like many other cities with low incomes and high unemployment, Yakima is relatively dangerous. There were 548 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents in 2015, nearly double the statewide rate.

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48. West Virginia
> Worst city to live: Huntington
> Population: 48,944
> Median home value: $90,600
> Poverty rate: 29.8%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.8%

The state of West Virginia as a whole compares poorly to the rest of the country by a number of social and economic measures. But in Huntington, a city of 48,944, living may be even harder than elsewhere in the state. For example, nearly 30% of the city’s population lives in poverty, compared to state and national poverty rates of 17.9% and 14.7%, respectively. West Virginia has the third-lowest median household income in the country, at $42,019, compared to a national median household income of $55,775. However, income levels are even lower in Huntington, where the typical household earns less than $30,000 annually.

Source: Thinkstock

49. Wisconsin
> Worst city to live: Milwaukee
> Population: 600,154
> Median home value: $114,000
> Poverty rate: 26.8%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.9%

Some 26.8% of Milwaukee residents live in poverty, the highest poverty rate of any city in the state and well above the 14.7% U.S. poverty rate. The city also has the lowest median household income in the state, at $37,495 a year, and second lowest unemployment rate, at 6.7%.

Economically stressed areas often struggle with higher rates of violent crime, and Milwaukee is no exception. There were 1,596 violent crimes for every 100,000 city residents in 2015, more than triple the violent crime rate in the next most dangerous Wisconsin city and the sixth highest violent crime rate of U.S. cities. Due in part to the city’s high crime rate, Milwaukee was one of a handful of U.S. cities selected in 2016 to receive federal assistance to reduce violence.

Source: Thinkstock

50. Wyoming
> Worst city to live: Cheyenne
> Population: 62,195
> Median home value: $182,900
> Poverty rate: 11.2%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.3%

Wyoming is the nation’s smallest state by population. The only two cities of any size are are Cheyenne, with a population of 62,195, and Casper, with a population of 58,817. The two cities are similar in a number of ways, but Cheyenne compares slightly worse in several important measures. The state capital has a poverty rate of 11.2%, compared to Casper’s 10.5% poverty rate. Violent crime is also slightly more commonplace in Cheyenne than in Casper, at 192 incidents per 100,000 residents, compared to Casper’s 139 incidents per 100,000 people.

While Cheyenne technically ranks as the worst city in the state to live, it compares either similarly or favorably to the state as a whole and the nation in measures like crime and poverty.

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