Atlanta, Detroit, five Ohio cities among top worst cities in U.S., report says

An analysis from financial news publication 24/7 Wall St., lists Atlanta, Memphis, Tennessee, and five cities in Ohio among the worst 50 cities in the country.

The new report, which assessed livability in about 600 U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more in 2016, compared cities across nine major categories: crime, demography, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure and leisure.

Analysts examined specific measures for each category, such as median household income adjusted for cost of living, high school standardized test scores, air quality and weather, access to quality hospitals, number of recreational centers per capita or commuter traffic congestion.

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“Quality of life is subjective, and difficult to measure,” 24/7 analysts wrote in the report. “Still, there is a wide range of quantifiable factors that can impact quality of life in a given area.”

Of the 50 cities on the list, 39 have higher than average violent crime rates, as well as unemployment rates above the 4.9 percent nationwide annual average.

Detroit, called “the poster child of American post-industrial urban decline” by researchers, was deemed the worst city in the country. According to the report, more than one in three Detroit residents live below the poverty line. The city’s unemployment rate is at a steep 10.9 percent.

Detroit’s violent crime rate is also higher than most cities. The Michigan city, along with Las Vegas, saw more than 2,000 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016. The national violent crime rate: 386 per 100,000 Americans.

Flint, Michigan, which made headlines last year for its toxic water crisis, came in second on the list with 9.8 percent unemployment rate, the highest poverty rate of any city in the country (44.5 percent) and a violent crime rate of 1,587 incidents per 100,000 people, triple the state’s rate.

Home to a population of about 472,506 residents, 22.4 percent of whom live below the poverty line, Atlanta’s substantial economic and population booms in recent years have been clouded by the city’s high violent crime rate. The city had three times the national violent crime rate in 2016, with 1,084 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Atlanta residents.

Atlanta was also named one of America’s top 25 murder capitals in 24/7 Wall St.’s 2016 report, based on FBI data.

Memphis’ high crime rate accounted for its ranking at No. 4. According to the report, there were 1,830 violent crimes in the city for every for every 100,000 residents in 2016, five times higher than the U.S. crime rate. More than a quarter of the city’s residents live in poverty, nearly double the 14 percent U.S. poverty rate.

Five cities in Ohio -- Cleveland, Youngstown, Dayton, Canton and Toledo -- made the list. In the top five is Cleveland, which has a 35 percent poverty rate and 1,633 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2016. It also has the second highest unemployment rate of any city in Ohio. The lack of jobs may explain the 2.4 percent decrease in the city’s population.

Dayton’s low annual household income landed it at No. 29 on the list. At $28,894, it’s the sixth lowest among all large cities in the country. Home values are also low: the typical home is worth $66,000, and standardized test scores in Dayton public schools are below those elsewhere in the state.

The full list of cities ranked the worst, according to 24/7 Wall St., is below.

  1. Detroit
  2. Flint, Michigan
  3. St. Louis
  4. Memphis
  5. Cleveland
  6. Wilmington, Delaware
  7. Albany, Georgia
  8. Springfield, Missouri
  9. Baltimore
  10. Milwaukee
  11. Hartford, Connecticut
  12. Homestead, Florida
  13. Florence-Graham, California
  14. San Bernardino, California
  15. Youngstown, Ohio
  16. Rockford, Illinois
  17. Pueblo, Colorado
  18. Gary, Indiana
  19. Little Rock, Arkansas
  20. Compton, California
  21. Shreveport, Lousiana
  22. Charleston, West Virginia
  23. Daytona Beach, Florida
  24. Stockton, California
  25. Miami Beach, Florida
  26. Merced, California
  27. Oakland, California
  28. Springfield, Massachusetts
  29. Dayton, Ohio
  30. Trenton, New Jersey
  31. Tuscon, Arizona
  32. Fresno, California
  33. Canton, Ohio
  34. Buffalo, New York
  35. Toledo, Ohio
  36. Knoxville, Tennessee
  37. Kalamazoo, Michigan
  38. Tallahassee, Florida
  39. New Haven, Connecticut
  40. South Bend, Indiana
  41. North Charleston, South Carolina
  42. Miami
  43. Syracuse, New York
  44. Jackson, Mississippi
  45. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  46. Tacoma, Washington
  47. Atlanta
  48. Gainesville, Florida
  49. Salt Lake City
  50. Fort Smith, Arkansas

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