Special Report

Worst Cities to Live in Every State

Source: Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

16. Kansas
> Worst city to live: Kansas City
> Population: 151,261
> Median home value: $87,600
> Poverty rate: 22.2%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.3%

While low property values can help make homeownership a reality for lower income individuals, cheap housing is also indicative of a weak economy and poor living conditions — and this appears to be the case in Kansas City. The typical home in the city is worth just $87,600, far less than the $141,200 median home value in Kansas.

Relative to the size of its population, Kansas City has very few amenities and attractions that might enrich the lives of residents. There are fewer bars, libraries, recreational centers, museums, and hotels per capita in Kansas City than there are in the U.S. as a whole. There are just 120 restaurants per 100,000 Kansas City residents, among the lowest concentrations of food establishments of any large U.S. city.

Source: Thinkstock

17. Kentucky
> Worst city to live: Louisville/Jefferson County
> Population: 615,389
> Median home value: $145,000
> Poverty rate: 16.7%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.1%

Although Louisville’s 4.9% 2015 unemployment rate is lower than the state’s 5.4% rate, it may not remain that way for long. The city lost 1.3% of its jobs between 2013 and 2015 — a steeper employment decline than in all but a few major U.S. cities. High crime rates in the area may be taking a toll on the local economy. There were 632 violent crimes — murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — for every 100,000 Louisville residents in 2015, nearly triple the state’s violent crime rate that year.

Louisville residents also cope with more air pollution than most Americans. Air quality is considered hazardous for at least part of about 8.8% of days a year, compared to an average of 5.9% of days nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

18. Louisiana
> Worst city to live: Shreveport
> Population: 196,994
> Median home value: $141,000
> Poverty rate: 23.4%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 24.9%

By many measures of quality of life, Shreveport is the worst large city to live in Louisiana and among the worst nationwide. While the city’s economy thrived in the first half of the 20th century due to an active oil industry, today Shreveport’s economy is largely service-based and is battling high unemployment. The city’s 2015 unemployment rate of 7.1% is far higher than the state’s unemployment rate of 6.3% and the national rate of 5.3%.

In addition to high unemployment, Shreveport struggles with high crime and widespread poverty. There were 819 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in Shreveport in 2015, more than twice the national crime rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans. Also, 23.4% of Shreveport residents live in poverty compared to 14.7% of Americans nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

19. Maine
> Worst city to live: Lewiston
> Population: 36,356
> Median home value: $144,300
> Poverty rate: 23.1%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.3%

Higher educational attainment rates are tied to higher incomes and better overall economic conditions. In Lewiston, only 16.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree — well below the 30.1% rate across the state. Similarly, some 23.1% of the Lewiston population lives below the poverty line, compared to only 13.4% of Maine’s total population.

Lewiston is also slightly more dangerous than the state as a whole. There were 188 violent crimes for every 100,000 city residents in 2015, compared to only 130 per 100,000 residents across the state.

Source: Thinkstock

20. Maryland
> Worst city to live: Baltimore
> Population: 621,849
> Median home value: $155,600
> Poverty rate: 22.9%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.9%

Baltimore is far and away the most dangerous large city in Maryland and one of the most dangerous in the United States. The city’s murder rate hit an all time high in 2015. That year, there were 1,536 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents, the eighth highest violent crime rate of any U.S. city and more than triple Maryland’s violent crime rate of 457 incidents per 100,000 people. The violence may have been partly fueled by the influx of drugs on the street following the looting of pharmacies during the unrest sparked by the police killing of Freddie Gray.

The record year in crime in the city may also be due in part to economic and social disparities. Some 22.9% of Baltimore’s population lives below the poverty line, more than double the 9.7% poverty rate across Maryland.