Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

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40. Monroe, Louisiana
> Population: 48,938
> Poverty rate: 34.8% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 2,225 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $143,200

Monroe’s high poverty rate is one of the main reasons the Louisiana city ranks among the worst U.S. cities. Over one-third of Monroe residents live in poverty, more than double the national poverty rate of 14.6%.

Monroe also has one of the highest crime rates in the country. For every 100,000 residents, there were 2,225 violent crimes reported in 2017. Only five other cities have a higher violent crime rate. Nationwide, the violent crime rate is 383 incidents per 100,000 people. Property crime is also common in Monroe. The city’s property crime rate of 8,232 crimes reported per 100,000 residents is more than triple the U.S. property crime rate.

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39. Natchitoches, Louisiana
> Population: 18,176
> Poverty rate: 44.7% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,187 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $150,800

Established in 1714, Natchitoches, Louisiana, is the oldest settlement in the entire 827,000 square mile area acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Today, few U.S. cities are shedding jobs faster than Natchitoches. The number of people working in the city declined by 28.8% over the last five years. Over the same period, total employment nationwide climbed by 6.1%.

The increasingly limited job opportunities do not bode well for improved economic prosperity in the area going forward. Currently, 44.7% of Natchitoches residents live below the poverty line, nearly the highest poverty rate in the state and more than triple the 14.6% national poverty rate.

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38. Yazoo City, Mississippi
> Population: 11,189
> Poverty rate: 49.0% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: N/A
> Median home value: $72,700 (bottom 10%)

Yazoo City, Mississippi, is one of the poorest cities in the United States. At least half of all households earn less $21,000 annually, and 49.0% of the population lives below the poverty line, more than triple the national poverty rate of 14.6%.

The widespread financial instability is partially attributable to the area’s weak job market. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.8% of workers in Yazoo City have been unemployed over the last five years, more than double the comparable national unemployment rate of 4.1%. Unlike the majority of U.S. cities, Yazoo has been shedding jobs in recent years. The overall number of people employed in the city declined by 14.1% between 2012 and 2017.

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37. Newburgh, New York
> Population: 28,444
> Poverty rate: 31.2% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,236 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $170,900

Newburgh is the only city in New York and one of only a few in the northeastern United States to rank among the worst cities to live. The city earned this distinction in part because of its high violent crime rate of 1,236 reported incidents per 100,000 people — more than three times the U.S. violent crime rate.

Newburgh residents also face difficult economic conditions. The city’s median household income of $36,922 a year is more than $20,000 lower than the U.S. median. This relatively low income is made more challenging by the fact that Newburgh’s cost of living is about 18% higher than it is on average nationwide. Like many of the other cities on this list, Newburgh’s population is shrinking. In the past five years, the number of people living in Newburgh dropped by 1.5%.

Source: Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons

36. Belle Glade, Florida
> Population: 19,175
> Poverty rate: 39.1% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,234 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $111,400 (bottom 25%)

At least half of all households in Belle Glade, Florida, earn less than $26,000 a year. Those low-income residents face further financial strain because of the area’s high cost of living. Goods and services in the southern Florida city are about 6% more expensive than they are nationwide, on average. Housing is particularly expensive. The typical home in the area is worth $111,400, 4.3 times the area’s median income. Nationwide, the typical home is worth just 3.4 times the median income.

The low median income in Belle Glade is partially attributable to a lack of jobs. Over the last five years, an average of 8.5% of workers in the area were unemployed according to Census estimates, more than double the comparable national unemployment rate of 4.1%.

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