Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

Source: marshallcountycvb / Flickr

35. Arab, Alabama
> Population: 8,200
> Poverty rate: 17.6%
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 549 (top 25%)
> Median home value: $143,800

Few U.S. cities are shedding jobs faster than the northern Alabama city of Arab. In the last five years, the number of people working in the city declined by 9.8%, even as employment across the U.S. as a whole climbed by 6.1%.

Crime is also a problem in Arab. There were 6,217 property crimes — which include burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft — for every 100,000 people in Arab, more than double the 2,362 per 100,000 property crime rate nationwide.

Source: Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA / Wikimedia Commons

34. Fairfield, Alabama
> Population: 10,850
> Poverty rate: 25.5% (top 25%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,905 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $96,100 (bottom 25%)

The typical home in Fairfield, Alabama, is worth just $96,100 — less than half the median home price nationwide. Real estate markets are often a reflection of what residents can afford, and many in Fairfield are struggling financially. The median annual household income is just over $36,000, and more than a quarter of residents live below the poverty line.

Fairfield’s job market lags behind that of most other U.S. cities. The city’s five-year unemployment rate is 7.0% compared to 4.1% nationwide. Over the past five years, employment growth in the city has been slower than average.

Source: uacescomm / Flickr

33. Helena-West Helena, Arkansas
> Population: 11,210
> Poverty rate: 42.5% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,112 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $75,400 (bottom 10%)

Helena-West Helena is the poorest city in one of the poorest states in the country. The typical household earns just $21,667 a year, less than half the median annual household income across Arkansas of $43,813 — which itself is nearly $14,000 less than the national median of $57,652.

Lower income areas often report higher levels of crime, and Helena-West Helena is no exception. There were 1,112 violent crimes for every 100,000 city residents in 2017, more than in over 90% of all U.S. cities for which data is available. The area’s high crime and low paying jobs may be driving residents out as over the last five years, Helena-West Helena’s population declined by 8.3%.

Source: Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) / Wikimedia Commons

32. Fort Valley, Georgia
> Population: 8,790
> Poverty rate: 38.3% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,016 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $76,400 (bottom 10%)

Fort Valley is one of the poorest cities in Georgia and the United States. The city’s 38.3% poverty rate is more than double both the state and national poverty rates of 16.9% and 14.6%, respectively. Widespread financial hardship is due in large part to a weak job market. According to Census estimates, 9.5% of the city’s workers were unemployed over the last five years, more than double the comparable national unemployment rate of 4.1%. Jobs have also become more scarce in Fort Valley in recent years. The number of people working in the city fell by a staggering 21.9% in the last half decade.

Source: Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons

31. Immokalee, Florida
> Population: 25,686
> Poverty rate: 43.4% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: N/A
> Median home value: $99,700 (bottom 25%)

The typical household in Immokalee, Florida, earns just $29,308 a year. The city’s low incomes are in stark contrast to much of the broader metro area. In nearby Naples, half of all households earn over $90,500 a year.

Low-income households in the area are strained further by the city’s high cost of living. Goods and services are 8.5% more expensive in Immokalee than they are on average nationwide. Food insecurity is also a problem in Immokalee. Nearly 32% of Immokalee residents have low access to a grocery store or supermarket, well above the 22% national food insecurity rate.