Special Report

Worst City to Live in Every State

South Dakota: Huron
> Population: 13,291
> Median home value: $89,900 (state: $159,100)
> Poverty rate: 21.6% (state: 13.6%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 1.3% (state: 3.5%)

Huron is a small city of less than 15,000 residents in eastern South Dakota. Though it is not struggling nearly as much as most cities and towns on this list, it ranks as the worst place to live in South Dakota, in part due to low incomes. The median annual household income in the city is $46,884, about $10,000 less than the median household income across the state. Additionally, 21.6% of Huron residents live below the poverty line, compared to 13.6% of South Dakotans.

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

Tennessee: Knoxville
> Population: 185,429
> Median home value: $128,800 (state: $158,600)
> Poverty rate: 26.2% (state: 16.1%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 5.9% (state: 5.9%)

Knoxville, one of the largest cities in Tennessee, also ranks as the worst place to live in the state. A relatively dangerous place, there were 799 violent crimes reported in Knoxville for every 100,000 people in 2018, well above the violent crime rates of 624 per 100,000 statewide and 381 per 100,000 nationwide. Other social problems in the city include a high incidence rate of fatal drug overdoses. There are about 53 drug deaths for every 100,000 people in Knox County annually, nearly double the statewide rate of 28 per 100,000.

Poverty is also relatively common in Knoxville. More than one in every four city residents live on poverty level incomes, compared to 16.1% of state residents.

Texas: Robstown
> Population: 11,494
> Median home value: $52,900 (state: $161,700)
> Poverty rate: 41.1% (state: 15.5%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 20.0% (state: 5.4%)

Robstown, Texas, is one of the poorest places in the United States. The typical household in the south Texas city earns just $29,218 a year, and over 40% of the local population lives below the poverty line. Meanwhile, across Texas, the typical household earns $59,570 annually, and 15.5% of the population lives in poverty. Financial insecurity is due in part to a lack of jobs, as workers in the city are about four times more likely to be unemployed than they are across the state as a whole.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Utah: Vernal
> Population: 10,653
> Median home value: $163,500 (state: $256,700)
> Poverty rate: 20.8% (state: 10.3%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 8.8% (state: 3.9%)

The poverty rate in Vernal, Utah of 20.8% is more than twice as high as the poverty rate statewide. It is also well above the 14.1% U.S. poverty rate. Vernal’s median household income of $51,301 a year is over $17,000 lower than the state’s median.

Workers in the northeastern Utah city may struggle to find higher-paying work because a relatively low share of adults have a college education. Just 16.1% of adults 25 and older hold at least a bachelor’s degree, well below the 33.3% share of state residents.

Vermont: Barre
> Population: 8,711
> Median home value: $154,300 (state: $223,700)
> Poverty rate: 26.6% (state: 11.2%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 6.3% (state: 4.1%)

Barre, Vermont, a small city just south of Montpelier, ranks as the worst place to live in the state. The city has the highest violent crime rate in Vermont — 837 incidents for every 100,000 people. Meanwhile, the violent crime rate across Vermont as a whole is just 172 per 100,000. With a poverty rate of 26.6%, more than double the 11.2% state poverty rate, Barre is also one of the poorest places in Vermont.

People have been leaving Barre faster than they have been coming in in recent years. Over the last half decade, the city’s population has declined by 3.2%.