Americans take into consideration a number of factors when deciding where to live, including the quality of schools, the strength of the local economy and job market, the area’s safety and culture, as well as its climate. Cities that perform well by these measures are more likely to attract new residents, and those that do not tend to drive residents away.
Comparing entire cities to each other can be problematic, particularly since living conditions can vary from one neighborhood to the next. Still, as much as a city can be judged on the whole, some cities face widespread problems that detract from residents’ overall quality of life.
> Worst city to live: Reading
> Population: 87,873
> Median home value: $69,100
> Poverty rate: 38.8%
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 11.5%
Once a prosperous industrial center, Reading’s economy and standard of living has declined since Reading Company, operator of the main coal transporting railroad in the area, declared bankruptcy in 1971. The city’s population declined in the following years but has grown steadily over the past few decades. Still, Reading’s population has yet to return to its 1930 peak of 111,000 people.
Today, Reading is one of the poorest of U.S. cities. Just 11.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, the smallest share of any large Pennsylvania city. With such low earnings potential, the city’s typical household earns just $26,531 a year, less than half the statewide median household income of $55,702. Reading’s poverty rate of 38.8% is the highest of any large Pennsylvania city and the fifth highest of any U.S. city.
American cities are often held to the standards of national averages, or against all of the other cities in a country. However, for the residents that actually live in these places, a more appropriate point of comparison are those cities that can be found nearby, in the same state.
To determine America’s worst cities to live in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the largest U.S. cities. Based on a range of variables, including crime rates, employment growth, access to restaurants and attractions, educational attainment, and housing affordability, 24/7 Wall St. identified the worst city to live in each state.