Worst Cities in America 2024

What are the worst cities in America?

While one’s ideal location to live is subjective and varies widely based on personal preference, some cities are considered the worst to live in.

24/7 Wall Street used 25 measures to create an index determining which cities are the worst cities to live in. Each of the measures fell into one of four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life, and community; and was given a full weight, half weight, or one-quarter weight. To avoid geographic clustering, only the top-ranking city in every county was included and only cities with populations over 8,000 were evaluated.

The affordability included factors such as median home value, taxes, and cost of living. The economy category included unemployment rate, five-year employment growth, and the share of total work-age population. In the quality of life category is the poverty rate, mortality rate, and drug overdose mortality rate. The community category included factors such as average travel time to work, the violent crime rate, property crime rate, and the total number of restaurants, bars, museums, parks, and other entertainment per capita.

Based on these factors, the ten worst cities in America are:

  1. Mendota, CA
  2. Florida City, FL
  3. California City, CA
  4. Makaha, HI
  5. Highland Park, MI
  6. Bessemer, AL
  7. Bastrop, LA
  8. Waianae, HI
  9. Anniston, AL
  10. Avenal, CA

Mendota, California, is the worst city in the United States. Almost half (49.5%) of the city’s population of 11,396 lives in poverty. Only 1.8% of the population has a Bachelor’s degree and half of all households earn less than $27,500 per year. The financial insecurity in Mendota is attributed to a lack of jobs, with an unemployment rate of 15.4%.

Highland Park, Michigan, is the fifth worst city in America but is by far the poorest on the list. The median household income is $15,699, which is almost $42,000 lower than the national median income, and it is the only city in the United States where most households earn less than $20,000 per year. 49% of the city’s residents live below the poverty line.

Of the top ten cities, Anniston in Alabama has the highest violent crime rate of 3,434 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The lowest median home value is $33,500 in Highland Park, Michigan.

There are some trends among the top 50 worst cities. One of these being that high crime rates, widespread poverty, weak job markets, and few entertainment options are more common in areas with lower educational attainment. The highest percentage of adults in these cities with a Bachelor’s degree is still below the national attainment rate of 30.9%. In 19 of the 50 cities, fewer than 10% of adults have a Bachelor’s degree. A majority of the cities on the list are in the West or South, with only 12 cities being in the Midwest or Northeast. In the top ten cities, nine out of the 10 are located in the West or South.

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Worst Cities in America 2024