The COVID-19 pandemic was a public health crisis that sent shockwaves through the U.S. economy -- and the country's social fabric. In addition to claiming over half a million American lives, the pandemic sent unemployment soaring and exacerbated existing problems, as drug overdoses and crime rates spiked in some parts of the country.
Even before the pandemic, however, there were cities and towns already grappling with severe social and economic distress. These communities have long struggled with challenges such as high unemployment, poverty, crime, drug misuse, and limited access to essential services.
Based on a weighted index of two-dozen social and economic measures, 24/7 Wall St. identified the worst place to live in every state. We considered cities, towns, villages, and census designated places home to at least 8,000 people.
Based on a range of key socio-economic measures, California City ranks as the worst place to live in California.The city of about 14,000 residents located in the southern half of the state has one of the worst job markets in the country. Over the last five years, an average of 19.1% of the labor force were unemployed, more than triple the 6.0% statewide average over that time. The high unemployment is likely attributable in part to the relative lack of local businesses. There are a far lower than average concentration of places like bars, restaurants, hotels, gyms, theaters relative to the population in California City than there are nationwide.
Home values can be indicative of a given area's desirability. In California City, the typical home is worth $124,500 -- a fraction of the median home value across the state as a whole of over half a million dollars.
Our index is composed of data across four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life, and community. Data is all for the most recent year available and came from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, The Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other sources. This is the worst city to live in every state.
|Place||Median home value ($)||Unemployment rate (%)||Poverty rate (%)|
|Arkansas: Helena-West Helena||73,400||11.8||45.2|
|California: California City||124,500||19.1||24.1|
|Florida: Florida City||153,100||14.0||40.0|
|Idaho: Mountain Home||144,200||6.6||16.4|
|Illinois: Sauk Village||70,400||16.3||31.8|
|Iowa: Fort Madison||81,600||8.9||15.9|
|Michigan: Highland Park||45,700||22.6||46.5|
|Mississippi: Yazoo City||70,900||20.5||44.8|
|Missouri: St. Louis||138,700||7.0||21.8|
|New Hampshire: Berlin||92,100||8.0||18.5|
|New Jersey: Bridgeton||109,200||6.9||31.2|
|New Mexico: Gallup||132,000||7.4||28.4|
|New York: Binghamton||91,000||10.4||32.6|
|North Carolina: Reidsville||103,500||9.5||24.3|
|North Dakota: Jamestown||144,800||3.2||14.7|
|Ohio: East Cleveland||58,100||18.8||37.5|
|Oregon: Klamath Falls||159,500||9.3||22.7|
|Rhode Island: Central Falls||159,100||6.8||30.2|
|South Carolina: Lancaster||141,600||18.0||35.3|
|South Dakota: Huron||91,900||1.6||19.7|
|West Virginia: Huntington||98,200||6.8||32.3|