Special Report

Worst Cities to Live in Every State

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Oklahoma: Okmulgee
> Population: 12,123
> Median home value: $63,000 (state: $125,800)
> Poverty rate: 26.8% (state: 16.2%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 731 (state: 456)

Okmulgee is a small city of about 12,000 in the Tulsa metro area. Over the last five years, the city lost 2.2% of its population. The population decline and reduced housing demand have likely reduced property values. The typical Okmulgee home is worth just $63,000, about half the value of $125,800 of the typical Oklahoma home.

High crime rates may also be suppressing real estate values and detract from the overall quality of life in the city. There were 731 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in Okmulgee in 2017, well above the state violent crime rate of 456 per 100,000.

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Oregon: Sweet Home
> Population: 9,289
> Median home value: $126,400 (state: $265,700)
> Poverty rate: 22.6% (state: 14.9%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 221 (state: 282)

Sweet Home is a small city of less than 10,000 in western Oregon. Its ranking as the worst place to live in the state is due largely to economic conditions. Overall employment in the city has fallen by 9.7% over the last five years, and the Census estimates that 6.7% of the labor force in Sweet Home is unemployed, well above the 4.2% state unemployment rate.

For many of those who are working in Sweet Home, compensation is relatively low. The typical household in the city earns just $36,411 a year. Meanwhile, the typical Oregon household earns $56,119 a year.

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Pennsylvania: Chester
> Population: 34,102
> Median home value: $67,300 (state: $170,500)
> Poverty rate: 35.9% (state: 13.1%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,610 (state: 313)

Chester, a city of about 34,000 residents within the Philadelphia metro area is the worst city to live in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s poverty rate of 13.1% is lower than the 14.6% national poverty rate — but in Chester, nearly 36% of the population lives on poverty level incomes. The area’s low incomes are partially attributable to the high jobless rate. Nearly one in every 10 workers in Chester are out of a job, more than double the 4.1% state unemployment rate.

Real estate values are often a reflection of what area residents can afford, and in Chester, the typical home is worth just $67,300, less than the median home value in over 90% of U.S. cities.

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Rhode Island: Central Falls
> Population: 19,395
> Median home value: $149,100 (state: $242,200)
> Poverty rate: 30.7% (state: 13.4%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 500 (state: 232)

The typical household in Central Falls, Rhode Island, earns just $30,794 a year, well below the national median household income of $57,652. After adjusting for the city’s high cost of living, the typical Central Falls household’s actual purchasing power is closer to about $26,000 a year. The area’s low incomes make housing particularly unaffordable. The typical Central Falls home is worth $149,100, nearly five times as much as the area’s median income. Nationwide, the typical home is worth 3.4 times as much as the median income.

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South Carolina: Georgetown
> Population: 8,960
> Median home value: $158,000 (state: $148,600)
> Poverty rate: 37.1% (state: 16.6%)
> Violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,422 (state: 506)

Georgetown is one of the poorest cities in South Carolina and the entire United States. The city’s 37.1% poverty rate is more than double the 16.6% state poverty rate and greater than in more than 90% of all U.S. cities. Crime is often concentrated in lower-income areas, and Georgetown is not an exception. The city’s violent crime rate of 1,422 incidents per 100,000 people in 2017 is nearly triple the statewide rate of 506 per 100,000.

The high crime and widespread financial hardship may be pushing some residents out of Georgetown. In the last five years, the number of people living in the city fell by 2.4%.

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