Here are the most miserable American cities. How have we arrived at these places? Just so you know, we have ranked them with the help of data from the U.S. Census, which surveyed over a thousand places across the country. The factors considered were crime rate, commute time, median household income, and changes in population. Are you ready to find out which cities they are? We hope that you are not going to find your current place of residence here!
In 2010, Cleveland was declared by Forbes as the most miserable city in the United States. You might already know that some people refer to it as “the mistake by the lake.” What a harsh but not wholly inaccurate nickname. It is sad to hear that 35% of its population lives below the poverty line. In 2019, a report said that only half of the people living here were employed.
Compton is on the list because 40% of the population is unemployed. Not only this, but 23% is living in poverty as well. Even though the city still has a fair number of issues, it is good to hear that it is no longer as dangerous as it used to be. In 1991, the city saw 87 murders. In 2014, this number went down to seven. There might still be hope for this place, it would seem.
Did you know that all of the executions in Texas are carried out by the Huntsville penitentiary? Well, we can totally understand why the Department of Criminal Justice happens to be the biggest employer in the city. To be specific, it provides almost 7,000 jobs to the residents! Despite this, unemployment rates are very high, and 35% of the population is poor.
Trenton, New Jersey
Once upon a time, Trenton had a good reputation as a booming industrial city. It was during this period that they coined the saying, “Trenton makes, the world takes.” Sadly, the city had been unable to keep this reputation. Production has gone down on top of the fact that there has been an increase in gang activity and gun violence. This is most definitely not one of the safest cities in the nation, that much we can tell you.
Newark, New Jersey
Just like Flint, there are major pollution problems in Newark. Sadly, lead poisoning from tainted water has been reported here. Not only that, but the city also has racial issues. This has led to riots and violence. The city has a population of 282,000, and 28% of these people live in poverty.
Passaic, New Jersey
The youth council of Passaic has reported that the schools offer little to no sex education. This has led to some problems in the city. Aside from that, there is also a lot of violence and drugs going around. A third of the population lives below the poverty line.
Miami Gardens, Florida
In 2014, this city was dubbed the “stop and frisk capital of America.” For context, around 57,000 people got frisked ever since 2008! It does not help that the cost of living here is very high. The water comes from a plant ran by the City of North Miami Beach, which explains why water is so expensive here.
This is an industrial city, which explains why the Hammond residents take in high levels of water and air pollution. Lead contamination is another serious issue over there. This was the reason the population has seen a decline of 6.2% ever since 2010. It is sad to hear that 22% of the population live in poverty.
Palmdale boasts the longest average commute time on the list with 42 minutes. The population of the city stands at 156,667. Unfortunately, 19% of the residents live below the poverty line. There was a time when the city was nicknamed “the foreclosure capital of California.”
In 2019, 2,000 immigrants got released in Harlingen. The city had to deal with the pressure of helping them out. It is known for its very hot climate and little rainfall. There are only 65,000 residents in the city, and only 56% of them are employed. Not only that, but 30% of the population lives in poverty.
Plainfield, New Jersey
The city of Plainfield saw 719 violent crime reports in the year 1990. Even though this number has since gone down, the residents still struggle with this problem. A fifth of them lives below the poverty line. A third does not have health insurance either. On average, it takes them 31 minutes to commute as well.
Bell Gardens, California
Bell Gardens more or less relies on just one casino for the majority of the tax revenue. The casino even provided over half of it in 2002! One of the major cities of the city would be overpopulation. We are sad to hear that 30% of the residents live in poverty.
Starting in 2010, the population of Warren went down by 7.7%. This can be explained by the shutdown of a GM plant, which led to a lot of job losses. The city also happens to have the second highest rate of folks struggling to get enough food across the nation. Ouch.
Union City, New Jersey
There are 68,500 people living in Union City, 23% of which lives in poverty. However, the worst thing about the city would be the fact that it only has an area of 1.28 square miles. This makes it one of the most densely populated places in the United States. The average commute time here is 33 minutes.
El Monte, California
El Monte was once a thriving city that is now struggling thanks to its dependence on auto dealerships. Three big dealerships in town had no choice but to shut down, which is why the city is now struggling with money. The average commute time is half an hour, and 22% of the population is in poverty.
Over the past couple of years, Hurricane Irma and an awful tornado ravaged the city of Albany. It suffered a lot of ruined crops and damage. Not only that, but the city also deals with a big problem with crime and poverty. As a matter of fact, a third of the population lives below the poverty line.
Camden, New Jersey
In Camden, the average household income rests at $26,105 a year. This is the lowest one on our list! The city is generally thought to be among the most dangerous ones in the country. However, the crime rate has been going down lately. Despite this, 37% of the residents continue to live in poverty.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
The population of Pine Bluff has gone down by an incredible 14% since 2010. From 2016 to 2017, the city lost more than 3,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. That was already a big enough hit, but the Arkansas River also flooded the whole city on top of that just last year.
Mansfield was once a successful city thanks to all the available industrial jobs it had. Sadly, the work has since dried up as did the whole city. Aside from this, a GM factory shut down operations in 2010 and led to more unemployment in the area. Violent crimes shot up by 37% since 2012.
Fort Pierce, Florida
There are 46,000 people living in Fort Pierce, and 36% of them live below the poverty line. Thanks to ocean erosion, the sand on the beaches have to be replenished by the city every couple of years. The economy used to rely on citrus farming. However, trade deal changes ended this source of revenue.
This is not the ideal place for most people to live. The commute takes 33 minutes on average. On top of this, 14% of the population is in poverty and 19% has no health insurance. It is also hard to find cheap housing. In 2019, The New York Times spoke to a home-ownership counselor who said that first-time buyers do not have good prospects in Montebello, but its living opportunities are not growing either.
In the past, the Ku Klux Klan headquarters used to be based in Pasadena. This might explain why racial issues still persist. The population is mostly working class, and the city is located close to petrochemical plants. Pasadena is very divided now. The north houses a Latino majority, and a white one down south.
Shreveport has gone through some rough times over the past couple of years. In 2015, the city was flooded by the Red River. This was where things started to go downhill for it. From 2015 to 2016, the murder rate doubled. There have also been huge problems with other crimes.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Hallandale is a “once scruffy beach town” that has since been dubbed “Hound-ale Beach” by the locals. The moniker is based on the abundance of strip clubs in the city. A fifth of the population is living in poverty, and over 29% is going without health insurance.
In the past, Youngstown was one of the biggest steel producers in the United States. Sadly, the factory scaled down operations in 1977. This led to massive job loss and the general decline of the city. In 2017, records showed that the city had the worst air pollution in the state of Ohio.
North Miami Beach, Florida
You might have heard just how messy things have gotten in North Miami Beach in the political sense. Two old mayors are criminally charged for their spending while in office. Aside from this, 20% of the population lives in poverty, 32% does not have healthcare, and the average commute takes 31 minutes.
In 2011, Reading was declared by the New York Times as the poorest city in the United States. Over the years, it has suffered from a lot of factory shutdowns. This led to a lot of job losses. The impoverished make up 36% of its population. Approximately 44% of the households receive food stamps as well.
Danville used to be a wealthy place, but things have started to go downhill for it thanks to the closing of textile and tobacco mills. The population has gone down by 5.5% over the past eight years. They are now trying to improve things by launching solar farms and repurposing abandoned warehouses.
It is quite surprising to hear that the population of Hemet has gone up since 2010. After all, the city has not had it easy at all. The crime rate has gone up drastically and 23% of the residents is now in poverty. In 2016, the police recorded 623 cases of stolen cars, 170 robberies, and 398 aggravated assaults.
Did you know that Brownsville is among the most patrolled American cities? It is thanks to the frequency of illegal immigrant crossing. The city rests on the Mexican border, so people try to cross here. This makes it hard for residents to sell real estate. On top of that, 31% of them live below the poverty line.
When you look at Lynwood now, you might not believe that it was once dubbed “The best place to live best.” It started to suffer during the construction of the Interstate 105, which runs through it. This led to many of the residents to move out of their homes. Many businesses and homes were demolished as well.
West New York, New Jersey
There are surely more convenient places than West New York to live in. It has a big trash and parking issue. Aside from this, the average commute takes 37 minutes, and 22% of the residents is in poverty.
In 2018 alone, there were 30 shootings reported in this city. This is the reason Saginaw is sometimes called “sag-nasty.” Once upon a time, GM factories employed 25,000 people here but have since stopped operations. The population has gone down by 6% ever since 2010.
Recently, the city of Jackson threatened to shut down water for 20,000 residents because the total of unpaid bills went up to $45 million. Since 2010, the city lost more than 5% of the population. Nearly 29% are in poverty as well.
Anderson used to be a thriving city when there were 24 GM factories to employ a huge chunk of the population. When the factories closed, 23,000 people ended up unemployed. This marked the decline of the town. In 2015, the government received $2.8 million to demolish a hundred abandoned houses.
Macon-Bibb County, Georgia
In the last eight years, Macon-Bibb County has lost nearly 2% of its population. About 56% of the population is employed, while 26% is living below the poverty line. The biggest issue in the city happens to be all the visually unappealing vacant properties. There are 3,700 unoccupied buildings in the city!
Lancaster has more or less turned into a desert town that few people want to live in. The city has 160,000 residents, of which 51% is employed and 23% is in poverty. The city has struggled with problems such as drug addiction and neo-Nazis. Rex Parris, the mayor, is now doing everything in his power to restore life to the city.
San Bernardino, California
Out of the 216,000 people living in San Bernardino, 30% is living below the poverty line. The city homes the first McDonald’s location, as well as the motorcycle gang known as the Hells angels. Sadly, it is going through a recession at the moment. This has resulted in a huge decline in the employment rate.
Cicero has become known for being the “private playground” of Al Capone back in the ‘20s. The city continues to struggle with this reputation. Sadly, gang activity is still a big problem over there. In 1999, the city decided to force gang members to leave in a span of 60 days or pay a daily fine of $500.
Port Arthur, Texas
Port Arthur has dealt with three hurricanes that wreaked massive destruction ever since 2005. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey dealt damages worth $1.3 billion on the city. Town officials feel nervous that Port Arthur will soon have a population of below 50,000 if people continue to leave. Should this happen, it is no longer going to be eligible for federal grants.
Between 1950 and 1960, 600,000 residents left Detroit due to the collapse of the manufacturing industry. Since 2010, Detroit’s population has declined by 6%. Today, this city contains more than 43,000 abandoned buildings. It is also considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
St. Louis, Missouri
From 2010 to 2018, the population in St. Louis suffered a decline of 5%. The city is struggling very much with gun violence and crime. In 2015, the number of killings went up by 33% from the previous year to 159 deaths. According to Mayor Francis Slay, the top priority of the city is to lower the crime rate.
Huntington, West Virginia
The population of Huntington has dropped by 6%, but this is not surprising at all. It used to be a booming coal town during the 1900s, but it has since suffered some rough times. The city has been struggling with a terrible opioid crisis. As a matter of fact, it has been named the overdose capital of America. In 2008, a report also revealed that it was the unhealthiest city in the country. Yikes.
North Miami, Florida
Flooding is a huge problem in North Miami. It is primarily caused by high tides. There is a prediction that the 2,780 septic tanks in the city will eventually stop functioning properly because of the climbing sea levels. This means that wastewater ends up in places that it should not be. Not a single person out there wants to hear such a thing!
Paterson, New Jersey
The Great Falls, which used to provide power to factories, flooded the city of Paterson when Hurricane Irene hit in 2011. After the massive flooding that took place during the natural disaster, the city ended up with 1,250 abandoned houses. On top of that, the tax revenue of the city went down by 38% from 2009 to 2016.
Huntington Park, California
The population of Huntington Park is 97% Latino. A lot of people say that immigrants use the city as an entry point into the country. A lot of immigrants are there illegally, so there is very low political engagement in this area. The high poverty rate of the city means that it is a struggle to purchase and sell property.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick has 56,000 residents, out of which 54% is employed and 34% is living in poverty. The city has big issues with crime, so this only makes it even harder to live in this city. If you need more proof that this is not particularly safe, you should know that the rate of firearm assault went up by 64% in 2017.
This is not surprising at all since you must already be familiar with the water crisis that the residents are dealing with. After all, it has been reported very well by many news outlets over the years. Flint has a poverty rate of 41%, which makes it the most impoverished entry on our list. On top of the water concerns, there is a very high rate of violence, an ongoing opioid crisis, and around 20,000 abandoned structures.
At long last, we have reached the end of our little list. We will let this 2017 quote from a drug enforcement agent speak for the city of Gary: “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.” That sounds very grim to us, all right.