Special Report

America's 50 Worst Cities to Live

Source: Glenkoz / Wikimedia Commons

35. Lehigh Acres, Florida
> Population: 119,205
> Median home value: $140,800
> Unemployment rate: 6.9%
> Poverty rate: 20.2%

Lehigh Acres is an unincorporated area in southwestern Florida. Though the cost of living in the area is slightly higher than average, incomes are not high enough to offset the higher cost of living. The typical area household has an annual income of $46,816, far less than the income of $60,293 for the typical American household. Additionally, more than one in every five area residents live below the poverty line, compared to 14.1% of Americans.

The overall financial well-being of area residents would likely improve with a stronger job market. Currently, the unemployment rate in Lehigh Acres is 6.9%, a full percentage point higher than the national rate.

34. Artesia, New Mexico
> Population: 12,202
> Median home value: $168,100
> Unemployment rate: 6.0%
> Poverty rate: 21.7%

Artesia is a small city in the southeast corner of New Mexico. A relatively large share of Artesia residents may struggle to obtain fresh, healthy food, for several reasons. An estimated 81% of residents live in low access areas, meaning that they live at least a mile from the nearest grocery store in urban areas and at least 10 miles in rural areas. The poverty rate in Artesia stands at 21.7%, well above the comparable 14.1% national poverty rate.

Source: ZTAT5 / WIkimedia Commons

33. Arizona City, Arizona
> Population: 11,761
> Median home value: $102,000
> Unemployment rate: 9.3%
> Poverty rate: 20.9%

Arizona City is a small unincorporated city in southern Arizona between Phoenix and Tucson. Over the last five years, the area’s employment — the number of people working — declined by 0.6%. Also, the unemployment rate stands at 9.3%, far higher than the comparable national five year rate of 5.9%.

The area has a far lower than typical concentration of places like restaurants and bars. Arizona City residents are also far more likely than most Americans to have to travel long distances to get to the nearest grocery store.

32. Bacliff, Texas
> Population: 10,649
> Median home value: $99,700
> Unemployment rate: 7.6%
> Poverty rate: 23.3%

Bacliff, Texas, is a small unincorporated town located about 40 miles southeast of downtown Houston. After World War II, the town expanded as a home for workers in a local petrochemical plant, and in recent decades, it has been plagued by gang activity. Joblessness is widespread in Bacliff as the town’s unemployment rate stands at 7.6%.

Like other places on this list, Bacliff is a poor community. Most households have an income of less than $40,000 a year, and 23.3% of the population live below the poverty line.

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31. Earlimart, California
> Population: 8,790
> Median home value: $131,300
> Unemployment rate: 14.3%
> Poverty rate: 41.6%

Earlimart is a small unincorporated town in central California, located between Fresno and Bakersfield. With a poverty rate of 41.6%, Earlimart is one of the poorest areas in the United States. The area’s financial hardship is due in part to the weak job market. Unemployment rate stands at 14.3%, nearly quadruple the comparable 5.9% national rate. The weak job market is also likely discouraging labor force participation as only 36.7% of the population are employed, well below the 47.3% national average.

Earlimart is also lacking in establishments that can improve overall quality of life. There are far fewer places like restaurants, bars, and gyms on a per capita basis in the town than there are nationwide.