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.
Florida City, located in southern Florida, ranks as the worst place to live in the state. Likely due in part to a 14.0% average five-year unemployment rate, well more than double the comparable 5.6% statewide rate, serious financial hardship is widespread in the area. An estimated 40% of the 12,000 people living in Florida City earn a poverty level income, compared to 14% of all Floridians who do.
Florida City also has nearly the highest violent crime rate of any city tracked by the FBI. There were a total of 2,619 violent crimes reported in the area for every 100,000 people in 2019 compared to the national violent crime rate of 367 per 100,000.
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|