Special Report

Worst Cities to Live in Every State

Samuel Stebbins, Grant Suneson, Evan Comen

Source: Thinkstock

Alabama: Mobile
> Population: 192,895
> Median home value: $125,100
> Poverty rate: 21.4%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 886

Alabama is a relatively poor state. Some 17.1% of the population lives below the poverty line, a larger share than the 14.0% of Americans who do. In Mobile, financial hardship is even more common, as 21.4% of the population lives below the poverty line — and this is exacerbated by a weak job market. Mobile’s 7.1% annual unemployment rate is well above the state rate of 6.0% and the national rate of 4.9%.

As is often the case in the cities on this list, Mobile’s population is shrinking. In the last five years, the number of people living in the city declined by 1.0% — even as the U.S. population grew 3.7% over the same period.

Source: Thinkstock

Alaska: Anchorage
> Population: 299,321
> Median home value: $298,000
> Poverty rate: 8.1%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,144

Of the three ranked cities in Alaska — Fairbanks, Juneau, and Anchorage — Anchorage is by far the most dangerous. There were 1,144 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 people in 2016. The second highest violent crime rate in the state is 855 incidents per 100,000 people in Juneau.

Job opportunities have vanished in Anchorage in recent years. Total employment in the city fell by 1.4% from 2014 to 2016, even as employment climbed 3.5% nationwide over the same period. The city’s annual unemployment rate of 5.3% is above the 4.9% national rate but slightly below the 6.6% state rate.

Source: Thinkstock

Arizona: Tucson
> Population: 530,690
> Median home value: $144,000
> Poverty rate: 24.1%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 800

The typical household in Tucson, Arizona, earns just $40,021 a year, less than three-quarters the median income of $53,558 across the state as a whole. The impact of low incomes is evident in the high share of area residents living in poverty. Of the over half a million people living in Tucson, 24.1% live below the poverty line, the highest poverty rate of any city in the state.

Not only is Tucson the poorest city in Arizona, but also it is the most dangerous. There were 4,245 violent crimes in the city in 2016, or 800 for every 100,000 people. For comparison, there were 470 violent crimes per 100,000 people statewide in 2016.

Source: Thinkstock

Arkansas: Little Rock
> Population: 198,546
> Median home value: $161,000
> Poverty rate: 18.8%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,533

Little Rock is the most dangerous city in Arkansas and one of the most dangerous in the United States. There were 1,533 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in the city in 2016 — compared to 551 per 100,000 statewide and 386 per 100,000 nationwide.

Area residents also face an elevated risk of natural disasters — particularly tornadoes. Many consider Arkansas part of the Tornado Alley, a region of the country where tornadoes occur with greater frequency, and Little Rock is in a part of the state at especially high risk.

Source: GTD Aquitaine / Wikimedia Commons

California: Florence-Graham
> Population: 63,390
> Median home value: $267,800
> Poverty rate: 31.5%
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: .

The typical household in Florence-Graham, California, earns $34,738 a year, about half the income the typical California household earns and well-below the $57,617 median income nationwide. Area households face additional financial strain from the high cost of living. Goods and services are 36.8% more expensive in Florence-Graham than they are nationwide on average.

For workers across the country, long commute times can contribute to stress and detract from overall quality of life. In Florence-Graham, the average commute is 32 minutes, nearly 6 minutes longer than the national average. Over the course of a week, a commuter in the city spends about an hour longer than the typical American worker commuting to and from work.