Special Report

50 Worst Cities to Live In

Source: Thomson200 / Wikimedia Commons

15. Union City, Georgia
> Population: 20,793
> Poverty rate: 20.7% (top 25%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,224 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $81,900 (bottom 10%)

Though the population of Union City, Georgia, increased by 7.4% in the past five years, the number of people employed in the city dropped by 1.2%. The city’s unemployment rate has been relatively high over the last five years at an average of 7.4%. The weak job market likely contributes to the city’s relatively low median household income of $35,627 a year.

Union City ranks as one of the worst cities to live in also because of crime issues. Its violent crime rate of 1,224 incidents per 100,000 residents is more than three times as high as the U.S. rate. The city’s property crime rate is also more than four times higher than the U.S. rate at 10,940 reported incidents per 100,000 residents.

Source: Mark Schierbecker / Wikimedia Commons

14. East St. Louis, Illinois
> Population: 26,678
> Poverty rate: 43.1% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 2,752 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $55,000 (bottom 10%)

East St. Louis is the most dangerous city in the most dangerous metro area in the United States. Across the broader St. Louis metro area, there were 2,082 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2017 — more than five times the national violent crime rate of 383 incidents per 100,000 people. In East St. Louis, there were 2,752 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, more than seven times the national rate.

High crime areas are often poor, and many in East St. Louis face serious financial hardship. The city’s 43.1% poverty rate is among the highest of any U.S. city. Unsafe streets and widespread poverty may be driving some out of the city. In the last five years, East St. Louis’s population declined by 1.6%, even as the U.S. grew by 3.8%.

Source: roadgeek / Flickr

13. Bridgeton, New Jersey
> Population: 24,948
> Poverty rate: 32.3% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,091 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $103,400 (bottom 25%)

Bridgeton, a small city in southern New Jersey, is the worst city to live in in the state and one of the worst in the country. The typical household earns just $34,135 a year, less than half the median annual household income of $76,475 across the state as a whole. Lower-income residents are further burdened by the city’s high cost of living. Goods and services are 9.3% more expensive in Bridgeton than they are nationwide, on average.

Like many cities on this list, Bridgeton is losing residents. Over the last five years, the city’s population declined by 1.2%, even as the U.S. population grew by 3.8%.

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

12. Prichard, Alabama
> Population: 22,063
> Poverty rate: 35.1% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,826 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $67,400 (bottom 10%)

Over the past five years, the number of jobs in Prichard, Alabama has decreased by nearly 17%, one of the highest rates of job losses anywhere in the country. Over the same period, employment climbed 6.1% nationwide.

Prichard, near Mobile in southern Alabama, has a median annual household income of $25,818 — less than half of the U.S. median. Prichard, like many other low income areas on this list, is losing residents. In the last five years, Prichard’s population dropped by 3.4%.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

11. Flint, Michigan
> Population: 97,810
> Poverty rate: 41.2% (top 10%)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,945 (top 10%)
> Median home value: $28,200 (bottom 10%)

Flint, Michigan, is one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the United States. About half of all households in Flint earn less than $26,330 a year, and 41.2% of the population lives below the poverty line. Poor areas often report higher crime levels than more affluent places, and in Flint, there were 1,945 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2017, more than in over 90% of all U.S. cities.

Flint has made national news in recent years after it was discovered that the city water supply was contaminated with lead. The contamination crisis has driven people out of the city and depressed real estate values. In the last five years, Flint’s population fell by 5.3%. Additionally, the typical home is worth just $28,200, a fraction of the typical American home value of $193,500.

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