Are These the 50 “Most Miserable” Cities in America?

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

According to a report by Business Insider, the title of the most miserable city in the United States goes to…

Gary, Indiana.

BI says that the 50 “most miserable cities” are made so mostly by poverty and a lack of opportunities to pull oneself out of poverty.

We’ve identified the 50 most miserable cities in the US, using census data from 1,000 cities, taking into consideration population change (because if people are leaving it’s usually for a good reason), the percentage of people working, median household incomes, the percentage of people without healthcare, median commute times, and the number of people living in poverty. (source)

Business Insider also took into account the havoc wrought by natural disasters, blight (abandoned houses), crime, and addiction rates. This spreadsheet shows how they arrived at their conclusions using data from the US Census Bureau.

Why is Gary, Indiana so miserable?

Gary used to be a hub of manufacturing, but those jobs have long-since gone elsewhere. When the jobs went away, so did many of the residents. Of the ones who remain, barely 50% are employed and 36% live under the poverty line.

The only positive effect of the struggling population is that when people left, certain crimes left, also.

A drug-enforcement agent who grew up in the area told The Guardian in 2017: “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.” (source)

But Gary isn’t the only place that people can’t get ahead.

Three states have several miserable cities.

If you’ve been paying attention to the homelessness crisis and the fecal matter in the streets, you will probably be unsurprised to hear that California has more miserable cities than any other state, with 10 falling into the 50 most miserable list.

California is followed by New Jersey, with nine miserable cities, and Florida, with six.

The other miserable cities on the list are scattered across the country. Things are so bad in many of these cities that it’s safe to say, the SHTF has quietly arrived and set up camp, while the rest of the country remains relatively oblivious to their plights.

Why makes these cities so “miserable?”

Many of the “most miserable cities” have stories of violence, natural disasters, drug addiction, and crumbling infrastructures. Quite a few have factories that have moved elsewhere, leaving a large swath of the population unemployed and living in poverty. It’s easy to tell people they need to get jobs. But people in these places know that for many, there are no jobs to get. Housing is unaffordable on the local average wages for those who do have jobs.

Foreclosures and repossessions are common themes. A few of the cities are dealing with thousands of immigrants they must try to house and feed. Others have corrupt local governments or governments that have managed finances poorly. Several are far too densely populated.

And here are some things you might not expect in the United States of America. In quite a few cities on the list, clean running water is not a given. Pollution and sanitation are serious issues for thousands of people.

I’ve written before about how a high percentage of Americans have no emergency funds and are struggling to pay for basic necessities like rent, food, and healthcare. The folks in these cities know all too well about that which I’ve written.

Here are the 50 most miserable cities in the United States of America.

These cities are ones that Business Insider has named the 50 “most miserable” according to data collected during the last census.

  • 50 – Lancaster, California
  • 49 – St. Louis, Missouri
  • 48 – Pasadena, Texas
  • 47 – Macon-Bibb County, Georgia
  • 46 – Danville, Virginia
  • 45 – Shreveport, Louisiana
  • 44 – Hemet, California
  • 43 – Mansfield, Ohio
  • 42 – San Bernadina, California
  • 41 – Compton, California
  • 40 – Montebello, California
  • 39 – Harlingen, Texas
  • 38 – Reading, Pennsylvania
  • 37 – Hallandale Beach, Florida
  • 36 – Palmdale, California
  • 35 – Anderson, Indiana
  • 34 – Fort Pierce, Florida
  • 33 – North Miami Beach, Florida
  • 32 – Jackson, Mississippi
  • 31 – Saginaw, Michigan
  • 30 – Plainfield, New Jersey
  • 29 – West New York, New Jersey
  • 28 – Miami Gardens, Florida
  • 27 – Cleveland, Ohio
  • 26 – Youngstown, Ohio
  • 25 – North Miami, Florida
  • 24 – Huntington, West Virginia
  • 23 – Hammond, Indiana
  • 22 – El Monte, California
  • 21 – Lynnwood, California
  • 20 – Huntsville, Texas
  • 19 – Paterson, New Jersey
  • 18 – Albany, Georgia
  • 17 – Trenton, New Jersey
  • 16 – Cicero, Illinois
  • 15 – Union City, New Jersey
  • 14 – Bell Gardens, California
  • 13 – Hialeah, Florida
  • 12 – Brownsville, Texas
  • 11 – New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • 10 – Huntington Park, California
  •   9 – Warren, Ohio
  •   8 – Camden, New Jersey
  •   7 – Flint, Michigan
  •   6 – Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  •   5 – Newark, New Jersey
  •   4 – Passaic, New Jersey
  •   3 – Detroit, Michigan
  •   2 – Port Arthur, Texas
  •   1 – Gary, Indiana

For details on why each city made the list, go here.

Do you agree with the findings on this list?

The entries on this list are not my personal opinion. As I mentioned earlier, the list above is based on the findings of the Census Bureau, who tracked population declines, the labor force, median incomes, those without health insurance, average commute times, and the percentage of residents living in poverty. Then, these statistics were used by Business Insider to compile the rankings.

Many things contributed to the statistics above, particularly manufacturing jobs leaving and natural disasters. The folks in many of these American cities are facing their own SHTF situations while those of us less an hour away from them are living in comfort, blissfully unaware with our clean running water, good sanitation, and plentiful jobs.

Do you agree with the methodology that determined which cities were the “most miserable?”  Are there cities you felt would have been on the list that weren’t? Which ones? Do you feel that any of the cities on the list don’t deserve to be there?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Hialeah, North Miami, Miami Gardens, North Miami Beach and Hallandale, Florida are located next to each other or close by on the South East coastline.
    (# 13, 25, 28, 33, 37 consecutively if you play Lotto)

    They could almost be considered an area rather than standalone cities.

    Fort Pierce, Florida, #34, further up the coastline, 100 plus miles north of Miami, has problems with Red Tide which may be or not a factor in the survey.

    Is the Guardian a British newspaper?

  • Many of these cities lost jobs in the manufacturing industry and the petroleum industry due to outsourcing and restrictions on oil production. Others have had, as stated in the article, a huge influx of “underlegalized foreign nationals” that need food, housing, medical and financial assistance, which somebody has to pay for. Add in swelling domestic transient populations who need assistance and services and it’s a strain on the already overextended safety net system.
    This is what we are talking about when we say “put up a wall”… We don’t hate children, or brown people who speak another language, we just want to look after our own citizens first. Too many of our own are in need of assistance, and eventually services will be cut due to a lack of money. You can’t tax people who can’t find jobs. You can’t make it up from the wealthy because there aren’t enough of them and they weasel out of paying their fair share a lot of the time anyway. There’s not enough low income housing as it is, either. Shtf to be sure.

    • Don’t know what you consider to be the “fair share” that the “rich” should be paying. A Pew Research Center analysis of IRS data from 2015, the most recent available, shows that taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or more paid well over half (58.8%) of federal income taxes, though they accounted for only 4.5% of all returns filed (6.8% of all taxable returns). If people truly paid a “fair share”, wouldn’t that require a flat tax in which every head of household pays the same percentage of adjusted gross income? Read more here:

  • #43, Mansfield OH.
    GM had a big plant there. Lots of the cities population was employed there. Numerous businesses servicing the plant too.

    I know a number of classmates who’s parents worked at the plant. Their plan was for their parents to get them those well paying blue collar jobs.

    Then the plant closed.

    All those jobs disappeared. All the secondary jobs too.

    I’ve been back once. Closed stores everywhere.

    All the anchor stores at the Mall were closed.

    Sad to see.

    • I’m from Mansfield too. Not surprised it’s on the list. It’s really gone downhill and it is very sad each time I visit. The mall isn’t the mall anymore; it’s a medical facility. My aunt and uncle used to work for GM. They have suffered, as well as their family.
      So much is falling apart 🙁

  • Considering that California has the largest population of all 50 states, it’s not surprising that it also has the highest number of “miserable” cities, by the criteria listed in this article.

    • Hi, Delilah. What updates would you like to see? There are many bells and whistles l’d like to add but I can’t without requiring a log-in. I’d rather keep this place more anonymous ????

      • Well it’s really annoying having to create a name each time I write a post. Your system does not remember names and emails for the next comment. At least not in my browser. Even if I tick the box “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.” it doesn’t work. Plus reading comments is a bit confusing because you’re not sure who the other person is replying to. There’s no HTML and no editing either. Once you write the comment and it’s posted…well, that’s it. Posters can log-in to commenting formats like DiSQUS and SPOT.IM and still remain anonymous. I think SPOT.IM would fit your site perfectly. I don’t know if you are already aware of this platform but you can check it out here: I think it would be easier to comment and carry on conversation with other posters when we can control our content even create an avatar too!…LOL Sure, posters would have to log-in or the browser will remember their email/username and password anyway. To me it’s more convenient. You can still review comments before they are posted as well. But do you really think that’s necessary. You can always program the comment software to not allow certain words and phrases, etc..which will save you the trouble of having to check every comment. ZeroHedge finally changed their commenting format and it’s much better. You offer a great service to readers there’s certainly no complaints there. Keep up the good work. Anyway, just my 2cents. Thanks for inquiring….!

        • I appreciate the suggestions. I’m not a fan of Disqus at all, as so many websites use it that you leave a trail of opinions around the web. I’ll look into Spot. 🙂

          • I Love your comment section! I’d love to see it left alone. I hate Disqus as it is frequently unavailable or difficult to access. Sometimes you just need to stay with what works. (Reminds me of millennials always needing the brand new iPhone.). Change isn’t always better.

  • I did not see any towns from Oklahoma. Several years back Oklahoma passed a law that made its state undesirable to illegals. The illegals almost overnight moved out of the states. I was up there talking with a waitress who said that wages went up and locals could find a job after the illegals left. I don’t know how it is now, but it made a difference there then.

    • Indeed! Criminal illegals have turned many once-safe cities into crime ridden hellholes, along with stealing millions of jobs. Oklahoma did the right thing, and so should the other states.

  • Where is San Francisco, Chicago (murders), Baltimore, etc.? Note that two of the top five have their mayors running for President in 2020.

    • As I mentioned in the article, the statistics didn’t add up for those larger cities. If you click on the link there is a detailed explanation of their methodology.

  • Huntsville, Texas made your list of miserable cities, but I believe several anomalies caused this problem. It is a very prosperous small town (population less than 50,000) in rural Texas. Granted wages are low but that is normal for rural Texas, just as our cost of living is lower than the national average. There is a 20,000 student University inside the city limits and many students are unemployed and most live below the poverty level. The Texas prison system is also headquartered there and some of the prison population is inside the city limits, again unemployed and under the poverty level.

    I reviewed the first few pages of the spreadsheet (thru number 300) for Texas cities and disagree with approximately half the cities included. The first thing that I notice is that any city with over 5% population growth should be reviewed further before it is included in the list. People do not move to cities where they can’t find a job. However, cities with large population increases (over 10%) are usually due to illegal immigration.

    Statistics can be used to provide both good and bad information. In this case and I’m sure in other cases on your spreadsheet, the statistics have labeled a very good and prosperous small town as a “miserable city”. You certainly owe the citizens of Huntsville, Texas an apology.

  • Worth mentioning is that proverty does not lead to crime if there is a cohesive shared culture amongst a group of people.

    The above article might give the impression that unemployment spirals down to drugs, crime and a SHTF scenario. People leave cities to get away from crime, drugs and a corrupt political envirnoment that brings with a hidden inflationary ‘tax’.

    Destroy a group’s culture from the inside gradually in steps and the rest follows. An example would be the introduction of socialism into the New York City school system during the early 1960’s. Have depressing books like ‘1984’, ‘Brave New World’, even ‘Catcher in the Rye’ (a novel about hopelessness and suicide), required reading in freshman highschool and you get the idea.

  • Puget sound (Seattle, etc) are pretty bad. Homelessness, out of control rent and house prices, traffic that crawls and stands still, no train or subway service, drug epidemic, crime out of control, homeless, addicted, mentally ill everywhere. Tent cities. Lawsuits by cities against opioid drug makers. Billionaires who refuse to pay taxes for the civic good.

  • OH born and bred, I am not surprised at the cities in the state mentioned. As Miss Kitty mentioned, the loss of manufacturing was a big hit here. And to MarineJarhead and Mindy, the same story has played out in the Greater CLE area as well. I grew up in northern Summit county, midway between CLE and Akron, and I don’t recognize the area anymore. IT is flourishing while the inner ring ‘suburbs’ my family initially came from are crime infested faltering communities. I know Mansfield is th same, as my ex is from that area and I keep in touch with family there.

  • I’m a native NY’er. Unfortunately there are a lot of crappy cities in NJ for all the reasons listed in this article… but there are beautiful places too (northwest NJ is the country, Bergen County has beautiful towns with excellent schools, the shore is absolutely beautiful – Stone Harbor, Cape May especially). Unfortunately, if you’re not from NY-NJ-PA-DE, then people automatically think it’s the armpit of America. (And yes, it’s liberal just like NY and we have to deal with DiBlasio and Cuomo who are atrocious. I think Cuomo is especially diabolical.). It’s really a shame.

  • I think that Portland, Oregon, should be on this list. It has gone from being a nice, livable city to an utter *&$^hole run by a bunch of communist SJWs who are working overtime to force people into little boxes and no cars. Hundreds upon hundreds of ugly expensive apartment buildings have popped up in recent years and no end is in site. Also, a sizable portion of the population does nothing but whine about Trump and everything they dislike. It really is a horrible place now with homeless pooping and littering everywhere and illegals welcome by most in the belief that their virtue signalling make them non-racist. It has become ugly and insane.

  • I noticed a lot of the cities mentioned are rural. It’s sad that rural areas are lacking in jobs but it is a fact in this country. There are always articles about homelessness in cities, but rural small towns have that issue also, just not in the same proportions.

    It’s interesting in Utah, Salt Lake County and Utah Country are growing exponentially with jobs a plenty, so the population is expanding south to smaller towns, sometimes taking their jobs with them, which is a good thing. But the growing areas are now fighting high density housing. The fear is that excessive high density housing will someday turn into a San Francisco or LA with WAY too many people.

  • Tucson,Arizona. Lots of dangerous crime,dirty,high business taxes, not enough police…….. I could go on,but you get the drift

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