According to the 2018 US Census, there are 310 cities in the United States with a population of 100,000 people or more– but not all of those cities are thriving. American cities that used to offer a high quality of life to its residents lost it all within a matter of years. For many, jobs disappeared, leaving its population with no opportunity and a slippery slope into poverty. Due to crime, home foreclosures, and unemployment, among other factors, these are the U.S. cities with the worst reputations… Did yours make the list?
Those who have never visited California may be unaware of how large and diverse the golden state actually is- it’s not all Hollywood, baby. In fact, the state has plenty of cities that rank extremely low when it comes to having a good reputation – more than any other state on this list! One of them is Lancaster, California.
Although it’s located within the Los Angeles County lines, Lancaster is a desert city with a population of around 160,000 people and a terrible reputation. The city is known for its drug problems and hate groups and has a poverty rate of 23%. Pair that with the extreme heat and it’s understandable why Lancaster gets a bad rap.
St. Louis, Missouri
The City of St. Louis has a long history of struggling with poverty and crime, particularly gun violence. Homicide is on the rise, increasing a mind-boggling 33% from 2014 to 2015, according to an article in the New York Times.
With an estimated population of 303,000 people, one-quarter of St. Louis residents are living in poverty, with only 65% of the population employed. Although city officials pledge to crack down on violence, the gun laws are very lax compared to other U.S. cities, with residents able to carry a loaded gun without a permit.
Of the estimated 153,000 people living in Pasadena, Texas, only 65% of them are employed. One-fifth of the city’s population is living in poverty and over one-quarter of Pasadena residents are living without health insurance.
Pasadena has a rough history as a headquarters for hate groups, and has struggled to squash race issues. Its residents are widely divided and the median household income is a measly $50,207.
Macon-Bibb County, Georgia
Another Southern city to make the list of U.S. cities with the worst reputations is Macon-Bibb County, Georgia. Driving around the area, it’s easy to see why no one would want to willingly stay here. The city is full of abandoned structures, with The Telegraph reporting nearly 3,700 unoccupied buildings within the county line.
Only 56% of Macon-Bibb residents are employed, while 26% are living in poverty. It’s not surprising that the city’s population rate is declining with little opportunity and plenty of eyesores for buildings.
Danville, Virginia is another U.S. city that has a terrible reputation and has seen a population decline because of it. From 2010 to 2018, Danville’s population fell an incredible 5.5% percent, with a current estimated population of 40,000 residents.
Sadly, the city used to be one of the richest in the area. But since its textile and tobacco mills started shutting down, which contributed as two of the city’s major economic forces, Danville has fallen apart.
After suffering from the 2015 Red River floods, the population of Shreveport, Louisiana declined by 6%. After the floods, crime (particularly the murder rate) quickly escalated. The gruesome statistics of the crime rates are enough to keep anyone away from this southern city.
Only 58% percent of the population in Shreveport are employed, with 26% of its residents living in poverty. Currently, there are around 189,000 residents but that number is expected to decline.
Another California city to make the list of the U.S. cities with the worst reputations is Hemet. The city has a population of 85,000 and is located within the county lines of Riverside, which has struggled to bounce back since the recession in 2008.
Since then, crime has increased, with a reported 623 cars stolen in 2016 along with 170 robberies. Unlike other cities on the list, the population of Hemet is growing.
The economy and quality of life in Mansfield, Ohio used to be thriving, but has taken a nosedive since factories began closing in the ’70s and ’80s. Many Mansfield residents relied on industrial factories for employment, including steel, stoves, and machinery.
The local GM factory gave workers employment opportunities, but even that factory shut down in 2010. Of its 46,000 population, only 48% are working, and nearly one-quarter of Mansfield residents are living in poverty. Its population has declined by 2.7% from 2010 to 2018.
San Bernardino, California
Another city located inland of Los Angeles makes the list. San Bernardino isn’t far from the troubled cities of Hemet or Lancaster, and faces many of the same problems. The city lost its footing when the local steel plant and the Air Force base closed, eliminating jobs for residents.
Then, the 2008 recession hit, sending 30% of the city’s residents into poverty with no way to dig themselves out. Of the population of 216,000, only 57% are employed. While the crime rates aren’t as high as some of the other cities in similar positions, there doesn’t seem to be much hope on the horizon for San Bernardino.
As far as cities with the worst reputations go, Compton, California needs no introduction. The city has long been in the news for gangs, crime, and being dangerous overall. Although some of the city’s residents have managed to go on to become superstars, Serena and Venus Williams, Dr. Dre and Anthony Anderson to name a few, that’s not the case for most Compton residents.
While crime has greatly decreased, including the murder rate, the city’s biggest problems remain to be poverty (23%) and unemployment (40%).
It’s clear that there are plenty of cities to steer clear of in California. The city of Montebello is another to make the list of worst reputations. Located within the county lines of Los Angeles, the city’s problems are heavily due to lack of affordable housing.
Montebello’s population of 62,632 try to make it work by commuting and searching for better jobs, but the opportunity just doesn’t seem to be available to young people looking to buy their first homes and start their career. Reportedly, 19% of the population is living without health insurance.
Overall, the population of the state of Texas is growing, as Americans move to the Lone Star State from other regions. Another factor for the state’s increased population is due to immigrants, which is the case in the border town of Harlingen, Texas.
In 2019, a reported 2,000 immigrants were brought to Harlingen, and the city has struggled to meet demands to serve its increased population. Flooding has also contributed to the city’s struggles which already has a low employment rate, with only 56% of the city’s population working and 30% living in poverty.
According to the New York Times, Reading, Pennsylvania was the poorest city in the United States in 2011. It’s another city that’s been crumbling since local factories have closed their doors, eliminating industrial jobs.
62% of the city’s population of 88,495 are working, but that doesn’t mean that they’re living comfortably. Local government reported that 44% of households are relying on food stamps to get by, while 36% are living in poverty.
Hallandale Beach, Florida
Located between Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale is the city of Hallandale Beach, Florida. It’s another U.S. city with a bad reputation that makes visitors want to drive right through without stopping. The beat-up beach town has been nicknamed “Hound-ale Beach” for its plethora of dive bars and strip clubs.
60% of Hallandale Beach residents are employed, but a whopping 29% of the city’s 40,000 population are living without health insurance. Employment opportunity is low, bringing the poverty rate to 20%.
Although the city’s name makes it sounds dreamy, Palmdale, California has its fair share of problems. 156,667 people live in the city that’s been nicknamed “the foreclosure capital of California.” Ouch.
Residents of Palmdale struggle to make ends meet and keep their homes, commuting an average of 42.7 minutes to their jobs around Los Angeles County. The median home price in Palmdale is $324,000 while the median income is a painful $56,699, which won’t get you far living in LA.
Anderson, Indiana is another U.S. city that Americans are leaving. When GM closed their factory doors 23,000 people lost their jobs, and many of them lost their homes as a result. So many houses and buildings were vacated that the city was given a reported $2.8 million to demolition 100 foreclosed and abandoned homes.
Of the population of 55,000 people, one-quarter are living in poverty and only 56% of residents are employed. The lack of employment has led to a population decline of 2% from 2010 to 2018 and things aren’t looking up for Anderson, Indiana.
Fort Pierce, Florida
While Fort Pierce, Florida is another U.S. city with a bad reputation, residents of Fort Pierce think otherwise. Many of the city’s residents are citrus farmers, but that economy has been struggling in recent years due to trade deals.
Although erosion has caused the beaches to begin disappearing and needing constant rehab, residents of Fort Pierce are still holding on to hope. Of the 46,000 residents that live there, around 50% are employed while 36% of people are left living in poverty.
North Miami Beach, Florida
While there are many thriving cities around North Miami Beach, the 46,000 people who live within the city lines are having a hard time. 65% of the population is employed, but 32% of residents are living without health insurance.
With limited employment opportunities locally, many residents commute outside of North Miami for work, leading to an average commute of 31 minutes. Local government is part of the problem, as two of the city’s mayors have faced charges for inappropriate use of taxpayer money.
Americans have been leaving Jackson, Mississippi since 2010 and it’s easy to see why. After the city suffered $45 million in unpaid water bills, Jackson city officials threatened to cut off water supply to its own residents.
Of the 165,000 people who live in Jackson, 29% are living in poverty with only 62% employed. The city’s mayor has been making promises to bring the city out of ruins but it’s a far-fetched goal for the near future.
Saginaw, Michigan used to have plenty of employment opportunities for residents with GM and other automakers proudly operating their factories in the area. As factory doors began closing and residents lost their jobs, 6% of Saginaw’s population left for better opportunities.
Those who stayed have to deal with a high crime rate and poverty. Currently, only 55% of Saginaw’s population is employed. The city is in desperate need of more jobs to get back on its feet.