Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

Source: navfac / Flickr

25. Nanakuli, Hawaii
> Population: 11,757
> Poverty rate: 16.2%
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: N/A
> Median home value: $310,300 (top 25%)

Even though Nanakuli, Hawaii, has a relatively high median annual household income at $65,101, residents typically do not have as much purchasing power as the average American. This is because the cost of living in the city is 61% higher than the average cost of living across the nation. Adjusted for cost of living, the median income in Nanakuli is only about $40,000.

A high cost of living is especially burdensome for people who are out of work. Nanakuli has an 8.3% five-year unemployment rate, more than double the comparable U.S. rate.

Source: jayphagan / Flickr

24. Robstown, Texas
> Population: 11,546
> Poverty rate: 35.1% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 894 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $54,300 (bottom 10%)

Robstown is a small city in southern Texas, just west of Corpus Christi. The city has struggled with a high jobless rate for years. The Census estimates that an average of 8.1% of the area’s labor force has been unemployed over the last five years, well above the comparable 4.1% national unemployment rate. Indeed, jobs appear to be disappearing in the city. Overall employment dipped in Robstown by 6.6% between 2012 and 2017, even as U.S. employment rose by 6.1%.

Likely due in part to the weak job market, Robstown is losing residents. Even though Texas ranks as one of the fastest growing states, Robstown’s population shrunk by 0.2% in the last five years.

Source: pikappa / Getty Images

23. Maili, Hawaii
> Population: 10,190
> Poverty rate: 20.2% (top 25%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: N/A
> Median home value: $436,200 (top 25%)

Maili, Hawaii, ranks among the worst cities to live largely because of its high cost of living — which does not align with what many residents can comfortably afford. Goods and services in the area are 61.4% more expensive than they are nationwide, on average. Though the typical area household earns $71,806 per year, incomes are actually far lower than average after accounting for cost of living. The cost of living is especially straining for the larger than typical 20.2% share of residents living in poverty.

Housing is particularly expensive in the city. The typical area home is worth $436,200 — or about 6.1 times the median household income. Nationwide, the typical home is worth $193,500, or just 3.4 times higher than the $57,652 median income.

Source: Aaron Manning / Wikimedia Commons

22. Bogalusa, Louisiana
> Population: 11,852
> Poverty rate: 36.3% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,298 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $68,800 (bottom 10%)

Of the more than 4,700 cities considered for this list, fewer than 100 have a median home value lower than in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Most homes in the city cost less than $70,000. For comparison, the typical home in the U.S. is worth $193,500. Very few residents are equipped to pay for an expensive home, as the city’s median annual household income is just $24,600.

Bogalusa has a five-year unemployment rate of 9.4%, well above the U.S. unemployment rate over that time. Despite these economic difficulties, there are signs of improvement in the city. Employment growth in the city over the past five years has exceeded 10%, outpacing the U.S. employment growth rate of 6.1%.

Source: David Jordan / Wikimedia Commons

21. Firebaugh, California
> Population: 8,275
> Poverty rate: 30.0% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 320
> Median home value: $150,700

Areas with lower levels of education tend to have lower of incomes and higher poverty rates. This holds true in the case of Firebaugh, California. Just 6.3% of Firebaugh adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.9% of U.S. adults. Three in 10 city residents live in poverty, more than double the U.S. poverty rate. At least half of all city households earn less than $42,000 per year.

The five-year unemployment rate in Firebaugh of 11% is more than double the U.S. unemployment rate over that time. The area’s job market appears to be improving however. Total employment increased by 15% over the last five years, far outpacing the comparable 6.1% employment growth nationwide.

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