50 Worst Cities to Live In
20. Compton, California
> Population: 97,537
> Median home value: $327,900
> Poverty rate: 26.5%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 8.1%
More than one in every four Compton residents live on poverty level income, well above the 14.0% U.S. poverty rate. The high poverty rate is partly attributable to the city’s weak job market. Some 8.2% of workers in Compton are unemployed compared to 4.9% of American workers nationwide. The jobs that are available in the city do not likely pay much. High-paying jobs are often only available to those with a college education, and in Compton, just 8.1% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, less than a third of the U.S. share of 31.3% of adults.
Poor areas often have higher crime rates, and Compton is no different. There were 1,158 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents in 2016, nearly three times the national violent crime rate.
19. Little Rock, Arkansas
> Population: 198,546
> Median home value: $161,000
> Poverty rate: 18.8%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 40.2%
Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, ranks as the worst city to live in in the state and one of the worst in the country. One of the most dangerous cities in the country, Little Rock’s violent crime rate of 1,533 incidents per 100,000 residents is nearly quadruple the national violent crime rate of 386 incidents per 100,000. The high violent crime rate may discourage some from relocating to or starting a family in the city. In the last decade, Little Rock’s population increased by only 0.2%, even as the U.S. population grew by 7.1%.
Likely due in part to the concentration of jobs common in state capitals that require higher education, a relatively large share of the Little Rock population is college educated. Some 40.2% of the city’s adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to the 31.3% of American adults. Despite a high educational attainment rate, the city’s median household income of $45,605 is about $12,000 below the national median.
18. Gary, Indiana
> Population: 74,186
> Median home value: $64,800
> Poverty rate: 33.3%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 11.0%
Gary, Indiana, is one of the most economically depressed cities in the country. One in every three city residents live below the poverty line, more than double the national poverty rate of 14.0%. Gary is also one of only a handful of cities nationwide where most households earn less than $30,000 per year. The low incomes are reflected in the area’s depressed real estate values. The typical home in Gary is worth just $64,800, nearly the lowest median home value of any U.S. city.
The financial hardship is due in part to a bleak jobs picture. Gary’s 9.0% unemployment rate is one of the worst in the country and far higher than the annual U.S. unemployment rate of 4.9%.
17. Pueblo, Colorado
> Population: 110,295
> Median home value: $126,200
> Poverty rate: 24.2%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 18.7%
Pueblo is the only Colorado city to rank among the worst cities to live in. The typical household earns just $38,380 a year, by far the lowest median income of any city in the state. Pueblo is also home to many residents struggling with financial hardship. Nearly one in every four residents live below the poverty line, the highest poverty rate of any city in Colorado.
Poor areas are more likely to struggle with crime than affluent cities, and Pueblo is no different. There were 980 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2016, the worst violent crime rate of any city in the state and nearly triple Colorado’s violent crime rate.
16. Rockford, Illinois
> Population: 147,404
> Median home value: $89,200
> Poverty rate: 22.6%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 22.6%
The city of Rockford, Illinois, has an unemployment rate of 7.7%, the highest of any city in the state and well above the 4.9% annual U.S. jobless rate. The city also ranks as the most dangerous in the state, with a violent crime rate of 1,658 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2016 — which is more than four times the U.S. violent crime rate.
The week jobs picture and high crime likely depress property values in the city. The typical home in Rockford is worth just $89,200, less than half the median home value of $186,500 across the state.
15. Youngstown, Ohio
> Population: 65,161
> Median home value: $43,300
> Poverty rate: 38.0%
> Pct. with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.0%
Youngstown, Ohio, is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Some 38.0% of the population lives below the poverty line, the third highest poverty rate among U.S. cities. Youngstown is also the only U.S. city where more than half of all households earn less than $25,000 a year. The low incomes are reflected in the city’s low property values. The typical home in Youngstown is worth just $43,300, less than a quarter of the national median home value of $205,000.
Like many poor cities, crime rates are high in Youngstown. There were 3,780 property crimes for every 100,000 city residents in 2016, well above the national property crime rate of 2,451 per 100,000.