Special Report

Worst City to Live in Every State

Source: Courtesy of Google Maps 2011

New Mexico: Chaparral
> Population: 14,793
> Median home value: $71,200 (state: $166,800)
> Poverty rate: 43.7% (state: 20.0%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 12.4% (state: 7.2%)

Chaparral, a small Census designated area in southern New Mexico, ranks as the worst place to live in the state. More than 40% of the local population lives on poverty level incomes, more than double the 20.0% state poverty rate — which itself is far higher than the 14.1% national poverty rate. The area’s low incomes are attributable in part to a lack of jobs. Unemployment in Chaparral has averaged 12.4% in the past five years, well above the 7.2% state rate.

Source: Courtesy of Google Maps 2013

New York: New Square
> Population: 8,133
> Median home value: $376,400 (state: $302,200)
> Poverty rate: 63.3% (state: 14.6%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 9.8% (state: 6.0%)

New Square, New York, is a Hasidic Jewish community in Rockland County about 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly two out of every three New Square residents live below the poverty line — a share more than four times higher than the 14.6% statewide poverty rate. Additionally, most households earn less than $24,000 a year and about one in every 10 households live on an income of less than $10,000 annually.

Source: roadgeek / Flickr

North Carolina: Lexington
> Population: 18,897
> Median home value: $106,000 (state: $165,900)
> Poverty rate: 31.0% (state: 15.4%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 13.8% (state: 6.3%)

Lexington, North Carolina, located about 60 miles northeast of Charlotte, ranks as the worst place to live in the state. More than one in every 10 households in the city earn less than $10,000 a year, and over the last five years, the city’s unemployment rate has averaged 13.8% — more than double the 6.3% state average.

The city and surrounding county have also been hit harder than much of the country by the opioid epidemic. There are an average of 30 drug overdose deaths for every 100,000 people annually across Davidson County, where Lexington is located, which is more than in most North Carolina counties and well above the 22 per 100,000 national average.

North Dakota: Minot
> Population: 48,304
> Median home value: $204,000 (state: $185,000)
> Poverty rate: 10.5% (state: 10.9%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 2.7% (state: 2.8%)

Variation in overall quality of life across North Dakota is not as stark as it is in much of the country. Partially as a result, even though it ranks as the worst place to live in North Dakota, Minot is not grappling with many of the serious social and economic crises as other cities on this list.

One of the reasons Minot ranks on this list is food insecurity. More than two in every three people in the city and surrounding county live in urban areas that are at least 1 mile from a grocery store or in rural areas that are at least 10 miles from one. Housing in Minot is also slightly less affordable than it is across the state as a whole. The typical home in the city is worth 3.1 times more than what the median annual household income, higher than the comparable ratio of 2.9 across North Dakota.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Ohio: Middletown
> Population: 48,449
> Median home value: $97,000 (state: $140,000)
> Poverty rate: 25.4% (state: 14.5%)
> 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 9.7% (state: 5.8%)

Middletown, Ohio, ranks as the worst place to live in the state, largely because of widespread economic distress. More than one in every four area residents live below the poverty line, and over the last five years, an average of one in every 10 workers were unemployed.

Few states have been hit as hard as Ohio by the opioid epidemic — and Middletown and the surrounding area are among the worst parts of the state for fatal overdoses. There are about 60 drug related deaths for every 100,000 people in Butler County, where Middletown is located, annually — nearly the most of any county in Ohio and more than double the comparable national rate of 22 per 100,000.