Special Report

Worst Cities to Live in Every State

Source: David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons

6. Colorado
> Worst city to live: Pueblo
> Population: 109,419
> Median home value: $124,700
> Poverty rate: 25.1%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.4%

The presence of institutions of higher education — colleges and universities — can create employment opportunities and often results in greater regional educational attainment. There are just two colleges or universities in Pueblo County, among the least of any county when adjusted for population.

Just 18.4% of the adults living in Pueblo have a bachelor’s degree, far less than the 39.2% statewide college attainment rate. Lower education attainment rates often result in lower incomes, and Pueblo is no exception. One in four of Pueblo’s 109,000 residents live in poverty, the largest share of any large city in the state. Additionally, the typical household in the city earns only about $36,300 a year, or $27,600 less than the median household income across Colorado.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Connecticut
> Worst city to live: Hartford
> Population: 124,014
> Median home value: $159,200
> Poverty rate: 28.3%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.9%

The population of many New England cities is shrinking as residents move south in favor of a low cost of living and good job market. Hartford is one such city. With goods and services costing 17 cents more on the dollar in Hartford than they do nationwide, the city is one of the most expensive in the country. Hartford also has one of the highest unemployment rates among major cities, comparable with Flint, Michigan and Compton, California. An estimated 10.4% of the Hartford labor force was unemployed in 2015, nearly double the 5.3% national figure. While the U.S. population grew 3.9% in the last five years, Hartford’s population declined by 0.7%.

Hartford’s economic decline has led to widespread crime and poverty. Some 28.3% of Hartford residents live below the poverty line, far more than the 10.5% statewide poverty rate. Additionally, there were 1,141 violent crimes per 100,000 Hartford residents in 2015, by far the most of any large Connecticut city and five times the corresponding statewide violent crime rate.

Source: Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

8. Delaware
> Worst city to live: Wilmington
> Population: 71,957
> Median home value: $160,300
> Poverty rate: 26.0%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 25.4%

The typical Wilmington household earns $41,035 a year, far less than the median income statewide of $61,255. Adjusted for the city’s high cost of living — groceries cost 10% more in Wilmington than they do nationwide, housing costs 26% more, and utilities cost 37% more — real area incomes are even lower.

Poor cities with tough job markets tend to have the most crime, and Wilmington, where 26.0% of the population lives in poverty and 6.9% of the labor force is unemployed, is no exception. There were 1,708 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Wilmington residents in 2015, the fifth highest violent crime rate of any U.S. city.

Source: Thinkstock

9. Florida
> Worst city to live: Miami Beach
> Population: 92,311
> Median home value: $460,000
> Poverty rate: 15.1%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 48.1%

While Miami Beach has some of the most expensive homes in country, a large share of city residents earn poverty wages. Miami Beach has a long history of segregation, which has contributed to income inequality throughout the city. While 9.9% of households in Miami Beach earn less than $10,000 annually, 13.7% of households earn at least $200,000 — each larger than the corresponding national shares.

The typical household in Miami Beach earns $50,937 annually, slightly less than the $55,775 national figure. Adjusted for the city’s high cost of living, however, area incomes are far lower. The typical home in Miami Beach costs $460,000, nine times the city’s median household income. In addition to being one of the least affordable cities in Florida and the U.S., Miami Beach is one of the most dangerous. There were 1,077 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2015, among the most of any city and more than double the statewide violent crime rate. There were also 9,717 property crimes per 100,000 Miami Beach residents, the highest property crime rate among large cities nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

10. Georgia
> Worst city to live: Albany
> Population: 71,109
> Median home value: $92,600
> Poverty rate: 32.0%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 19.0%

Population trends are indicative of the desirability of a city. New residents are often attracted by a healthy economy and job market, while residents tend to desert areas with a poor economy, a high crime rate, and widespread poverty. As the national population expanded by 3.9% over the last five years, Albany’s population declined by 10%, the steepest drop of any large city in Georgia.

This decline appears to reflect some of the problems the southern Georgia city faces. The city’s annual unemployment rate is 7.9%, the highest in the state, and well above the 5.3% national unemployment rate. Additionally, 32% of the city’s population lives in poverty, well above the 17% statewide poverty rate.