The 49 Worst Cities In The United States (Based on Census Data)

Published on 04/22/2020
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This list was created by using U.S. census data that includes over 1,000 cities. It uses factors like commute time, crime rate, median household income, and more. All this is in order to find out which are the most miserable cities in the United States. Curious? Let’s take a look at the cities that made the list.

Cleveland, Ohio

Back in 2010, Forbes declared that Cleveland was the most desirable city in America and that it was often called “the mistake by the lake”. In fact, 35% of the population lives in poverty, and in 2019, a report found that half of those living in poverty are employed.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Compton, California

It turns out that 40% of the Compton population is unemployed, while 23% live in poverty. While the city struggles with a fair amount of issues, it’s nowhere near as dangerous as it used to be. In 1991, there were 87 murders in the city. In 2014, that number went down to seven.

Compton, California

Compton, California

Huntsville, Texas

All Texas executions are done solely out of the Huntsville penitentiary. Thanks to this fact, the Department of Criminal Justice is the city’s biggest employer, providing almost 7,000 jobs. Overall, unemployment rates are very high in this city and 35% of its population lives in poverty.

Huntsville, Texas

Huntsville, Texas

Trenton, New Jersey

Trenton once was a thriving industrial city, earning the phrase “Trenton makes, the world takes”. Sadly, times have changed. In addition to the decrease in production, Trenton suffers from a lot of gang activity and serious gun violence issues.

Trenton, New Jersey

Trenton, New Jersey

Newark, New Jersey

Similar to Flint, Newark has significant problems with lead poisoning thanks to the tainted water. On top of that, the city struggles with racial issues, leading to more violence and riots. Out of the 282,000 people living in the city, 28% are living in poverty.

Newark, New Jersey

Newark, New Jersey

Passaic, New Jersey

Passaic’s youth council has reported that their schools provide a small amount if any, sex education. This is very problematic for the city. In addition, they also struggle with drugs and violence. One-third of Passaic’s population lives in poverty.

Passaic, New Jersey

Passaic, New Jersey

Miami Gardens, Florida

Back in 2014, Miami Gardens was named the “stop and frisk capital of America” after around 57,000 people had been frisked since 2008. The cost of living in this city is sky-high. The water for the city is obtained from a plant that’s owned by the City of North Miami Beach. This results in very expensive water.

Miami Gardens, Florida

Miami Gardens, Florida

Hammond, Indiana

Thanks to the industrial nature of the city, the residents of Hammond have started experiencing issues with air and water pollution as well as lead contamination. Due to this fact, their population has lowered by 6.2% since 2010. In fact, 22% of the city lives in poverty.

Hammond, Indiana

Hammond, Indiana

Palmdale, California

The average commute time in Palmdale is 42 minutes, which is the highest on this list. The city has a population of 156,667. 19% of the city lives in poverty. At one point, Palmdale was called “the foreclosure capital of California”.

Palmdale, California

Palmdale, California

Harlingen, Texas

In 2019, 2,000 immigrants were released in Harlingen, which has put a lot of pressure on the city to help them out. The city is known to be very hot with very little rainfall. It has 65,000 residents, 56% of them are working while 30% live in poverty.

Harlingen, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Plainfield, New Jersey

In 1990, there were 719 reported violent crimes in Plainfield, New Jersey. While that number has gone down over the years, the city still struggles with crime. A fifth of the population lives in poverty while one-third are without health insurance. The average commute time is around 31 minutes.

Plainfield, New Jersey

Plainfield, New Jersey

Bell Gardens, California

Reportedly, Bell Gardens depends on a single casino for most of its tax revenue. Back in 2002, this casino provided over half of it. As it turns out, the city’s mayor issue is overpopulation. 30% of Bell Gardens’ population is living in poverty.

Bell Gardens, California

Bell Gardens, California

Warren, Ohio

Since 2010, Warren’s population went down by 7.7%. When GM closed a plant in the town, serious job losses came along with it. This resulted in a significant downfall. Warren has the second-highest rate of people struggling to find enough food in the country.

Warren, Ohio

Warren, Ohio

Union City, New Jersey

Out of the 68,500 residents living in Union City, 23% live in poverty. The worst part of living there is that it’s only 1.28 square miles. Due to this fact, this is one of the most densely populated cities in the country. The city’s average commute time is 33 minutes.

Union City, New Jersey

Union City, New Jersey

El Monte, California

Once a thriving city, El Monte’s heavy reliance on auto dealerships has resulted in some more recent struggles. Three of the bigger dealerships were forced to close down. Aside from that, the city continues to struggle with finances. In fact, 22% of the population lives in poverty while the average commute time is 30 minutes.

El Monte, California

El Monte, California

Albany, Georgia

Over the past few years alone, Hurricane Irma and a destructive tornado have ravaged Albany. This resulted in tremendous damage and ruined crops. Aside from that, the city has a major problem with crime and poverty. A third of Albany’s population is currently living in poverty.

Albany, Georgia

Albany, Georgia

Camden, New Jersey

The average household income in Camden is $26,105 a year – the lowest number on this list. This city is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the country. However, their crime rate is slowly getting better. All the same, 37% of Camden residents are currently living in poverty.

Camden, New Jersey

Camden, New Jersey

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Since 2010, Pine Bluff’s population has gone down by a whopping 14%. Over the span of just one year (2016-2017), The city lost over 3,000 manufacturing jobs. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the whole city of Pine Bluff was flooded by the Arkansas River in 2019.

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Mansfield, Ohio

Once a typically successful city thanks to the availability of industrial jobs, that work has since dried up, leading the city down the same path. In addition, in 2010, a GM factory shut down, leading to even more job losses. Since 2012, violent crimes have gone up by 37%.

Mansfield, Ohio

Mansfield, Ohio

Fort Pierce, Florida

With a population of 46,000, Fort Pierce has over 36% living in poverty. The city needs to replenish the sand on the beaches every few years thanks to ocean erosion. Previously, their economy was based on citrus farming, but changes in trade deals ended the city’s primary source of income.

Fort Pierce, Florida

Fort Pierce, Florida

Montebello, California

Montebello is simply not an ideal place to live. With the average commute being 33 minutes, 14% of the population lives in poverty, and 19% don’t have health insurance. However, the worst part is finding affordable housing. A home-ownership counselor spoke to The New York Times in 2019 and said that prospects for first-time buyers weren’t good and that opportunities to live there weren’t growing.

Montebello, California

Montebello, California

Pasadena, Texas

Once the home to the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, Pasadena still has racial problems to this day. The city is mostly working-class and is based next to petrochemical plants. Nowadays, Pasadena is very divided. The north consists mostly of Latino residents while the south is mostly white.

Pasadena, Texas

Pasadena, Texas

Shreveport, Louisiana

Over the past few years, Shreveport has hit some hard times. In 2015, there were massive floods from the Red River. From there, everything went downhill. The murder rate in the city doubled from 2015 to 2016 and they have serious issues with other crimes as well.

Shreveport, Louisiana

Shreveport, Louisiana

Hallandale, Florida

Described as a “once scruffy beach town” by The Wall Street Journal, locals have nicknamed Hallandale “Hound-ale Beach” thanks to its large amount of strip clubs. In fact, 20% of the population lives in poverty while over 29% don’t have health insurance.

Hallandale, Florida

Hallandale, Florida

Youngstown, Ohio

Back in the day, Youngstown was the third-biggest steel producer in America. However, the factory started downsizing in 1977. Along with this came massive job losses and a decline in the city as a whole. In 2017, the city was recorded to have the worst air pollution in Ohio.

Youngstown, Ohio

Youngstown, Ohio

North Miami Beach, Florida

Lately, politics in North Miami Beach have been messy since two previous mayors have been facing criminal charges for their spending. To top it off, 20% are living in poverty, 32% of residents don’t have health care, and the average commute time is 31 minutes.

North Miami Beach, Florida

North Miami Beach, Florida

Reading, Pennsylvania

Back in 2011, The New York Times declared Reading to be the poorest city in America. Throughout the years, a large number of factories shut down, which resulted in a lot of job losses. In fact, 36% of the population lives in poverty, and about 44% of households are on food stamps.

Reading, Pennsylvania

Reading, Pennsylvania

Danville, Virginia

Once an extremely wealthy town, Danville has since declined thanks to its textile and tobacco mills closing down. The city’s population has gone down by 5.5% over the past eight years. Now, they’re trying to make a comeback by setting up solar farms in order to make use of their abandoned warehouses.

Danville, Virginia

Danville, Virginia

Hemet, California

It’s somewhat surprising that Hemer’s population has grown since 2010 since the city is obviously struggling. 23% of its population lives in poverty, and the crime rate has gone up significantly. In 2016, 623 cars had been stolen, 170 robberies were reported, and the police logged 398 aggravated assaults, which is the most this century.

Hemet, California

Hemet, California

Brownsville, Texas

One of the most patrolled cities in the country, Brownsville has frequent illegal immigrant crossings. Since the city is on the Mexican border, it makes crossing over very easy. This problem makes it very hard for Brownsville residents to sell property. 31% of the population currently lives in poverty.

Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville, Texas

Lynwood, California

Looking at this city now, it might be surprising that Lynwood was once named “The best place to live best”. The city began to really suffer when the Interstate 105 was built straight through it. This resulted in a lot of people leaving their homes, and plenty of homes and businesses were demolished.

Lynwood, California

Lynwood, California

West New York, New Jersey

Not the most convenient area to live in, West New York struggles with serious trash and parking problems. To top it off, the average commute is 37 minutes and 22% of the population is living in poverty.

West New York, New Jersey

West New York, New Jersey

Saginaw, Michigan

In 2018 alone, 30 shootings were reported in Saginaw. This caused the city to be nicknamed “sag-nasty”. GM factories used to employ 25,000 people in the city, however, the factories shut down. Since 2010, the population has gone down by 6%.

Saginaw, Michigan

Saginaw, Michigan

Jackson, Mississippi

This year, the city threatened to cut off the water for 20,000 people since $45 million worth of bills hadn’t been paid. The city lost more than 5% of its population since 2010 and almost 29% live in poverty.

Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

Anderson, Indiana

Once thriving with 24 active GM factories that employed a large part of the population, the factories have since shut down. This resulted in 23,000 people losing their jobs and the town declined from there. In 2015, the city was given $2.8 million to tear down 100 homes that were abandoned.

Anderson, Indiana

Anderson, Indiana

Macon-Bibb County, Georgia

This city has lost almost 2% of its population over the past 8 years. 56% of their population is working while 26% live in poverty. The biggest problem the city has is that it has vacant property which is visually unappealing. It has about 3,700 unoccupied buildings.

Macon Bibb County, Georgia

Macon Bibb County, Georgia

Lancaster, California

Basically a desert town, Lancaster isn’t a place many people can stand to live in. It has a population of 160,000. 51% of them are working and 23% live in poverty. The city has big problems with meth addiction and neo-Nazis. Their mayor, Rex Parris, is doing all he can to bring the city back to life.

Lancaster, California

Lancaster, California

San Bernardino, California

San Bernardino has a population of 216,000, out of which 30% live in poverty. This city is home to the first McDonald’s restaurant and the Hells Angels motorcycle gang and is going through a tough recession which is resulting in a plummeting employment rate.

San Bernardino, California

San Bernardino, California

Cicero, Illinois

Known for being Al Capone’s “private playground” back in the 1920s, the city is still struggling with that reputation. Sadly, Cicero has had a large problem with gang activity for years now. In 1999, the city voted to make gang members leave within 60 days or face a $500 fine.

Cicero, Illinois

Cicero, Illinois

Port Arthur, Texas

Since 2005, Port Arthur had been hit by three different hurricanes, leaving behind a lot of destruction. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 cost the city $1.3 billion in damages. Town officials are nervous that people will keep leaving and that will result in the population falling below 50,000 people. This could make it eligible for federal grants.

Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur, Texas

Detroit, Michigan

Between 1950 and 1960, 600,000 residents left the city due to the collapse of the manufacturing industry. Since 2010, The city’s population declined by 6%. Nowadays, Detroit contains over 43,000 abandoned buildings. It’s also thought to be one of the most dangerous cities in the country.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

St. Louis, Missouri

Recently losing 5% of its population between 2010 and 2018, St. Louis struggles tremendously with crime as well as gun violence. Back in 2015, killings rose 33% from the year before to 159 deaths. The mayor has clearly stated that fixing crime is their number one priority.

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri

Huntington, West Virginia

Ever since 2010, Huntington has lost 6% of its population, which isn’t surprising. The city was a thriving coal town back in the 1900s, but it has since come across some hard times. Dealing with a huge opioid crisis, the city has been named America’s overdose capital. The city also reported as the unhealthiest city in the U.S. back in 2008.

Huntington Park, California

Huntington Park, California

North Miami, Florida

This city has a massive issue with flooding, thanks to high tides. They’re predicting that their 2,780 septic tanks will soon stop functioning properly due to the rising sea levels. This means that water will end up in places it shouldn’t be.

North Miami Beach, Florida

North Miami Beach, Florida

Paterson, New Jersey

In 2011, The Great Falls, which was used to power factories, ended up flooding the city after Hurricane Irene. After this massive flooding, the city had around 1,250 abandoned homes. From 2009 to 2016, the city’s tax revenue fell by 38%.

Paterson, New Jersey

Paterson, New Jersey

Huntington Park, California

Huntington Park is 97% Latino. It’s been called an entry point for immigrants. Most of these immigrants are there illegally. This means that political engagement is very low in the area. The city has a high poverty rate which makes it a real struggle to sell or buy property.

Huntington Park, California

Huntington Park, California

New Brunswick, New Jersey

The city currently has 56,000 residents. However, only 54% are working and 34% live in poverty. The city has serious problems with crime, making it a difficult place to live. In 2017, the rate of assault with guns has gone up by 64%.

New Brunswick, New Jersey

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Flint, Michigan

This one isn’t surprising since we’re all aware of the water crisis the residents of Flint have been facing. With a 41% poverty rate, Flint is the most improvised city on this list. On top of the water concerns, Flint has a serious opioid crisis, an incredibly high rate of violence, and 20,000 abandoned buildings.

Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan

Gary, Indiana

In 2017, a drug-enforcement agent said this about Gary, Indiana: “We used to be the murder capital of the US, but there is hardly anybody left to kill. We used to be the drug capital of the US, but for that you need money, and there aren’t jobs or things to steal here.” Enough said.

Gary, Indiana

Gary, Indiana

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