Worst Cities to Live in Every State

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South Dakota: Box Elder
> Population: 9,277
> Median home value: $130,700 (state: $152,700)
> Poverty rate: 14.5% (state: 13.9%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 333 (state: 434)

Box Elder is a small city of less than 10,000 in the Rapid City metro area. Though it ranks as the worst city to live in in South Dakota, it is a preferable place to live than the vast majority of cities on this list. Though Box Elder has a higher cost of living than every other city considered in the state, goods and services are still about 4.5% less expensive than they are nationwide on average.

Box Elder residents, however, have relatively few local entertainment and dining options. The city has a far lower than typical concentration of places like restaurants, nature parks, museums, and movie theaters.

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Tennessee: Memphis
> Population: 654,723
> Median home value: $94,200 (state: $151,700)
> Poverty rate: 26.9% (state: 16.7%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 2,003 (state: 652)

Memphis is the most dangerous city in Tennessee and one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. It is one of only 11 U.S. cities where the 2017 violent crime rate exceeded 2,000 incidents per 100,000 residents. As is the case in many high crime cities, Memphis is also home to a large poor population. More than one in every four Memphis residents live below the poverty line, compared to the 16.7% poverty rate across Tennessee.

Joblessness is also a problem in Memphis. The city’s unemployment rate stands at 6.6%, far higher than the 4.0% state unemployment rate.

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Texas: Robstown
> Population: 11,546
> Median home value: $54,300 (state: $151,500)
> Poverty rate: 35.1% (state: 16.0%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 894 (state: 439)

Robstown is a small city in southern Texas, just west of Corpus Christi. The city has struggled with high joblessness 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 and more than double the state’s 3.7% 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 by population, Robstown’s population shrunk by 0.2% in the last five years.

Source: David JolleyStaplegunther / Wikimedia Commons

Utah: Grantsville
> Population: 10,170
> Median home value: $212,300 (state: $238,300)
> Poverty rate: 7.7% (state: 11.0%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 280 (state: 239)

Though Grantsville ranks as the worst city in Utah, it is safer and has a lower poverty rate than the state as a whole; it is also a far preferable place than many other cities on this list. Grantsville’s status as the worst city in Utah is attributable primarily to factors relating to community and quality of life. For example, a higher than average 31.1% of the population has low access to grocery stores, and the nearest hospital is about 10 miles away. Grantsville also has a higher drug overdose mortality rate than most cities in Utah. The city also has a lower than typical concentration of entertainment options like restaurants, bars, nature parks, museums, and movie theaters.

Source: John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

Vermont: Barre
> Population: 8,778
> Median home value: $151,500 (state: $220,600)
> Poverty rate: 27.4% (state: 11.4%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 358 (state: 166)

The unemployment rate in Barre, Vermont, of 4.6% is the highest of any city considered in the state and half a percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate. The relative lack of jobs may partially explain the city’s recent population decline. Over the last five years, the number of people living in Barre fell by 2.9%. Over the same period, the number of people working in the city fell by 4.8%.

The area’s weak job market may also partially explain widespread financial hardship in Barre. The city’s 27.4% poverty rate is higher than every other city in the state and the 14.6% national poverty rate.