Special Report

This is the Worst City to Live in Pennsylvania

Lee Paxton / Wikimedia Commons

The COVID-19 pandemic was a public health crisis that sent shockwaves through the U.S. economy — and the country’s social fabric. In addition to claiming over half a million American lives, the pandemic sent unemployment soaring and exacerbated existing problems, as drug overdoses and crime rates spiked in some parts of the country.

Even before the pandemic, however, there were cities and towns already grappling with severe social and economic distress. These communities have long struggled with challenges such as high unemployment, poverty, crime, drug misuse, and limited access to essential services.

Based on a weighted index of two-dozen social and economic measures, 24/7 Wall St. identified the worst place to live in every state. We considered cities, towns, villages, and census designated places home to at least 8,000 people.

The small Pittsburgh suburb of McKeesport ranks as the worst place to live in Pennsylvania. Over the last five years, McKeesport reported a 2.2% population decline. Limited economic opportunity may be pushing residents out. Most households in McKeesport earn less than $30,000 a year, and nearly 15% of local households earn less than $10,000 annually.

An improved job market would likely reduce financial hardship in McKeesport, as the five-year average unemployment rate in the city of 12.1% is more than double the comparable 5.3% state rate. However, a high concentration of serious crime may be hampering economic development. There were 1,531 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people in McKeesport in 2019, well above the 367 per 100,000 U.S. violent crime rate.

Our index is composed of data across four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life, and community. Data is all for the most recent year available and came from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, The Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other sources. This is the worst city to live in every state.

Place Median home value ($) Unemployment rate (%) Poverty rate (%)
Alabama: Atmore 94,300 15.7 34.6
Alaska: Fairbanks 211,500 7.7 11.0
Arizona: Douglas 100,300 11.4 30.1
Arkansas: Helena-West Helena 73,400 11.8 45.2
California: California City 124,500 19.1 24.1
Colorado: Pueblo 141,000 8.4 23.5
Connecticut: Hartford 165,300 12.0 28.1
Delaware: Wilmington 168,000 8.4 26.0
Florida: Florida City 153,100 14.0 40.0
Georgia: Albany 99,800 13.7 30.8
Hawaii: Makaha 404,900 12.7 31.0
Idaho: Mountain Home 144,200 6.6 16.4
Illinois: Sauk Village 70,400 16.3 31.8
Indiana: Gary 66,100 12.4 30.6
Iowa: Fort Madison 81,600 8.9 15.9
Kansas: Coffeyville 55,800 6.0 29.3
Kentucky: Mayfield 100,200 11.6 34.7
Louisiana: Opelousas 98,100 8.8 43.3
Maine: Sanford 183,800 6.4 13.9
Maryland: Baltimore 160,100 8.3 21.2
Massachusetts: Holyoke 195,800 6.0 29.3
Michigan: Highland Park 45,700 22.6 46.5
Minnesota: Virginia 92,200 6.4 25.5
Mississippi: Yazoo City 70,900 20.5 44.8
Missouri: St. Louis 138,700 7.0 21.8
Montana: Havre 149,300 6.6 17.8
Nebraska: Scottsbluff 116,600 6.4 18.0
Nevada: Fernley 221,200 5.8 9.9
New Hampshire: Berlin 92,100 8.0 18.5
New Jersey: Bridgeton 109,200 6.9 31.2
New Mexico: Gallup 132,000 7.4 28.4
New York: Binghamton 91,000 10.4 32.6
North Carolina: Reidsville 103,500 9.5 24.3
North Dakota: Jamestown 144,800 3.2 14.7
Ohio: East Cleveland 58,100 18.8 37.5
Oklahoma: McAlester 101,600 6.9 19.5
Oregon: Klamath Falls 159,500 9.3 22.7
Pennsylvania: McKeesport 48,000 12.1 31.4
Rhode Island: Central Falls 159,100 6.8 30.2
South Carolina: Lancaster 141,600 18.0 35.3
South Dakota: Huron 91,900 1.6 19.7
Tennessee: Memphis 101,800 8.7 25.1
Texas: Robstown 64,000 15.4 38.4
Utah: Price 144,700 7.7 21.9
Vermont: Barre 158,300 7.4 22.8
Virginia: Petersburg 108,100 11.7 24.1
Washington: Tukwila 315,000 7.6 17.2
West Virginia: Huntington 98,200 6.8 32.3
Wisconsin: Beloit 89,900 8.8 23.1
Wyoming: Rawlins 171,700 5.3 11.0

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