***The following list was compiled based on U.S. Census data (covering more than 1,000 cities). Factors such as commute time, crime rate, median household income, and population trends were used to determine the 49 most miserable cities in the United States of America.***
49. Cleveland, Ohio
in 2010, Forbes declared Cleveland the most miserable city in the U.S., and the city is often referred to as “the mistake on the lake” 35% of the population lives in poverty, and a 2019 report found that half of those living in poverty are employed.
48. Compton, California
40% of Compton’s population is unemployed, and 23% live in poverty. Although the city has a number of problems to contend with, it’s nowhere near as dangerous as it once was. In 1991, there were 87 murders – in 2014, that number dropped to seven.
47. Huntsville, Texas
All Texas executions are carried out exclusively at the Huntsville Correctional Facility. For this reason, the Department of Criminal Justice is the largest employer in the city, providing nearly 7,000 jobs. Overall, however, the unemployment rate in this city is extremely high, and 35% of the population lives in poverty.
46. Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton was once a thriving industrial city that earned the phrase “Trenton makes, the world takes” Unfortunately, times have changed. In addition to the decline in manufacturing, Trenton suffers from heavy gang activity and severe gun violence problems.
45. Newark, New Jersey
Similar to Flint, Newark has major problems with lead poisoning due to contaminated water. In addition, the city has struggled with racial problems that have led to excessive violence and riots. Of the city’s 282,000 residents, 28% live in poverty.
44. Passaic, New Jersey
The Passaic Youth Council has reported that there is little to no sex education in the schools, which is very problematic for the city. They also struggle with drugs and violence. One-third of Passaic’s population lives in poverty.
43. Miami Gardens, Florida
In 2014, Miami Gardens was named the “Stop and Frisk Capital of America” after an estimated 57,000 people had been frisked since 2008. The cost of living in this city is enormous. Its water is drawn from a plant owned by the city of North Miami Beach, resulting in very high costs.
42. Hammond, Indiana
Due to the industrial nature of the city, Hammond residents have problems with air and water pollution, as well as lead contamination. For this reason, the population has decreased by 6.2% since 2010. 22% of the city’s population lives in poverty.
41. Palmdale, California
The average commute time in Palmdale is 42 minutes, topping this list. The city has 156,667 residents, 19% of whom live in poverty. At one point, Palmdale was dubbed “the foreclosure capital of California”
40. Harlingen, Texas
In 2019, 2,000 immigrants were released in Harlingen, putting a lot of pressure on the city to help them. Harlingen is known for being extremely hot with very little rain. The city has 65,000 residents, 56% of whom are employed and 30% of whom live in poverty.
39. Plainfield, New Jersey
In 1990, 719 violent crimes were reported in the City of Plainfield. Although the number has decreased over the years, the city still struggles with crime. One-fifth of the population lives in poverty, one-third lacks health insurance, and the average commute time is 31 minutes.
38. Bell Gardens, California
Bell Gardens reportedly depends on a single casino for most of its tax revenue. In 2002, this casino provided more than half of it. Apparently, the city’s major issue is overpopulation. 30% of Bell Gardens’ population is living in poverty.
37. Warren, Ohio
Since 2010, Warren’s population has decreased by 7.7%. When GM closed a plant in town, many jobs were lost, leading to a sharp decline. Warren has the second highest rate of people struggling to find enough to eat nationwide.
36. Union City, New Jersey
Out of Union City’s 68,500 residents, 23% live in poverty. The worst part about living in this city is that it’s only 1.28 square miles. Because of this, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. The city’s average commute time is 33 minutes.
35. El Monte, California
El Monte used to be a thriving city, but its heavy reliance on auto dealerships has resulted in some recent struggles. Three of the larger dealerships were forced to close, and the city continues to struggle with finances. 22% of the population lives in poverty, and the average commute is 30 minutes.
34. Albany, Georgia
In just the past few years, Hurricane Irma and a destructive tornado have ravaged Albany, resulting in tremendous damage and ruined crops. Along with the destruction, the city has a huge issue with crime and poverty. A third of Albany’s population is currently impoverished.
33. Camden, New Jersey
The average household income in Camden is $26,105 per year – the lowest figure on this list. This city is considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in the country, but their crime rate is slowly improving. 37% of Camden residents are currently living in poverty.
32. Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Since 2010, Pine Bluff’s population has dropped by a whopping 14%. In just one year (2016-2017), this city lost over 3,000 manufacturing jobs. As if that wasn’t already a hard enough hit, the entire city of Pine Bluff was flooded by the Arkansas River in 2019.
31. Mansfield, Ohio
Mansfield used to be a typically successful city due to the availability of industrial jobs. Unfortunately, when that work dried up, so did the city. On top of that, in 2010, a GM factory closed its doors, leading to more job losses. Since 2012, violent crimes have risen by 37%.
30. Fort Pierce, Florida
Fort Pierce has a population of 46,000 and over 36% live in poverty. The city has to replenish the sand on their beaches every few years due to ocean erosion. Their economy was previously based on citrus farming, but changes in trade deals essentially ended the city’s primary source of income.
29. Montebello, California
All around, Montebello is just not an ideal place to live. The average commute is 33 minutes, 14% of the population lives in poverty, and 19% don’t have health insurance. The worst part, however, is finding affordable housing. A home-ownership counselor told The New York Times in 2019 that prospects for first-time buyers weren’t good and that opportunities to live there weren’t growing.
28. Pasadena, Texas
Pasadena used to be home to the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan and racial issues still remain. The city is mostly working class and is based near petrochemical plants. Today, Pasadena is extremely divided. The north consists of mostly Latino residents while the south is mostly white.
27. Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport has hit some hard times in the past few years. In 2015, it suffered massive floods from the Red River and everything went downhill from there. Their murder rate doubled from 2015 to 2016 and they have had major issues with other crime as well.
26. Hallandale, Florida
The Wall Street Journal has described Hallandale as a “once scruffy beach town,” and locals have nicknamed it “Hound-ale Beach,” due to its large number of strip clubs. 20% of the population lives in poverty, and more than 29% of people are without health insurance.
25. Youngstown, Ohio
Back in the day, Youngstown was the third-biggest steel producer in the United States, but the factory began downsizing in 1977. With this came massive job losses and a decline in the city overall. In 2017, Youngstown was recorded as having the worst air pollution in Ohio.
24. North Miami Beach, Florida
Politics in North Miami Beach have been a bit messy lately as two previous mayors have been facing criminal charges for their spending. On top of that, 20% are living in poverty, 32% of residents don’t have healthcare, and the average commute time is 31 minutes.
23. Reading, Pennsylvania
In 2011, The New York Times declared Reading the poorest city in the country. Through the years, a large number of factories closed down resulting in major job losses. 36% of the population lives in poverty, and an estimated 44% of households are on food stamps.
22. Danville, Virginia
Danville was once an extremely wealthy town, but has since declined due to its textile and tobacco mills shutting down. The city’s population has fallen 5.5% in the past eight years. Now, they are trying to make a comeback by setting up solar farms and making use of their abandoned warehouses.
21. Hemet, California
It comes as a bit of a surprise that Hemet’s population has grown since 2010, because the city is clearly struggling. 23% of the population lives in poverty, and the crime rate has risen dramatically. In 2016, 623 cars were stolen, 170 robberies were reported and the police logged 398 aggravated assaults, which is the most this century.
20. Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville is one of the most patrolled cities in the country, due to the frequent illegal immigrant crossings. Because the city is on the Mexican border, it makes crossing over easy. This issue makes it very hard for Brownsville residents to sell property, and 31% of the population currently lives in poverty.
19. Lynwood, California
Looking at the city now, it might come as a surprise that Lynwood was once called “The best place to live best.” The city began to really suffer when Interstate 105 was built right through it. This resulted in plenty of residents leaving their homes, and numerous homes and businesses were demolished.
18. West New York, New Jersey
West New York is not the most convenient area to live in. The city struggles with major trash and parking issues. On top of that, the average commute is 37 minutes and 22% of the population lives in poverty.
17. Saginaw, Michigan
In 2018, 30 shootings were reported in Saginaw and the city was nicknamed “sag-nasty”. GM factories used to employ 25,000 people in the city, but the factories have since shut down. Since 2010, the population has decreased by 6%.
16. Jackson, Mississippi
This year, Jackson threatened to cut off water for 20,000 people because $45 million worth of bills hadn’t been paid. The city has lost over 5% of its population since 2010 and almost 29% live in poverty.
15. Anderson, Indiana
Anderson was once thriving with 24 active GM factories employing a large part of their population. When these factories shut down, 23,000 people lost their jobs and the town declined from there. In 2015, the city was given $2.8 million to tear down 100 abandoned homes.
14. Macon-Bibb County, Georgia
Macon-Bibb County has lost almost 2% of their population in the past eight years. 56% of their population are working and 26% live in poverty. The city’s biggest issue is vacant property, which is visually unappealing. This city has about 3,700 unoccupied buildings.
13. Lancaster, California
Lancaster is basically a desert town that not many people can stand to live in. It has a population of 160,000, 51% of whom work, and 23% of whom live in poverty. This city has had major issues with meth addiction as well as neo-Nazis. Their mayor, Rex Parris, is doing everything he can to bring their city back to life.
12. San Bernardino, California
Out of San Bernardino’s population of 216,000, 30% live in poverty. Home to the first McDonald’s restaurant and the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, San Bernardino is enduring a tough recession, resulting in a plummeting employment rate.
11. Cicero, Illinois
Cicero is known for being Al Capone’s “private playground” back in the 1920’s, and the city is still fighting this reputation. Unfortunately, Cicero has had a major issue with gang activity for years. In 1999, the city voted to make gang members leave within 60 days or face a daily $500 fine.
10. Port Arthur, Texas
Since 2005, Port Arthur has been hit hard by three different hurricanes, leaving behind plenty of destruction. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 caused the city $1.3 billion in damages. Town officials are nervous that if people keep leaving, Port Arthur will fall below 50,000 people, which would make it ineligible for federal grants.
9. Detroit, Michigan
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.
8. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis recently lost 5% of its population between 2010 and 2018. The city struggles tremendously with crime and gun violence. In 2015, killings rose 33% from the year before to 159 deaths. Mayor Francis Slay has stated that fixing crime is currently their number 1 priority.
7. Huntington, West Virginia
Since 2010, Huntington has lost 6% of its population – and it’s truly no surprise. Huntington was a thriving coal town back in the 1900’s, but has since come across hard times. Dealing with a massive opioid crisis, the city has been titled America’s overdose capital. The city was also reported as the unhealthiest city in America back in 2008.
6. North Miami, Florida
North Miami has a huge issue with flooding, largely due to high tides. They are predicting that their 2,780 septic tanks will soon stop functioning correctly due to rising sea levels (which means waste water ending up in places it shouldn’t be).
5. Paterson, New Jersey
In 2011, The Great Falls, which was used to power factories, ended up flooding the city of Paterson after Hurricane Irene. Following this massive flooding, this city had about 1,250 abandoned homes. From 2009 to 2016, the city’s tax revenue fell by 38%.
4. Huntington Park, California
Huntington Park is 97% Latino and has been called an entry point for immigrants. Most of these immigrants are there illegally, meaning the political engagement is extremely low in the area. The city’s high poverty rate makes it a real struggle to purchase/sell property.
3. New Brunswick, New Jersey
Out of the city’s 56,000 residents, only 54% are working and 34% live in poverty. New Brunswick has major problems with crime, making it a difficult place to live. In 2017, the rate of assault with guns rose 64%.
2. Flint, Michigan
This one comes as no surprise as we are all aware of the water crisis Flint residents have been facing. With a 41% poverty rate, Flint is the most impoverished city on this list. In addition to the water concerns, Flint has a serious opioid crisis, a disturbingly high rate of violence, and 20,000 abandoned buildings.
1. Gary, Indiana
In 2017, a drug-enforcement agent had this to say about Gary, Indiana: “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.” Enough said.