These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Kentucky For 2018

We used science and data to determine which KY cities are really ghetto.

This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

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There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But which of Kentucky’s largest cities are the most ghetto of all?

How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:

“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”

Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state, and then put out a list.

After analyzing the largest cities in the Bluegrass State, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places to live in Kentucky:

  1. Somerset (Photos)
  2. Grayson (Photos)
  3. Hazard (Photos)
  4. London (Photos)
  5. Paducah (Photos)
  6. Russellville (Photos)
  7. Mayfield (Photos)
  8. Columbia
  9. Carrollton (Photos)
  10. Paintsville (Photos)

In case you’re wondering, Edgewood is the least ghetto city of all we measured.

Read on below to see where your hometown ranked and why.

For more Kentucky reading, check out:


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What ghetto criteria did we use?

In order to rank the most ghetto places in Kentucky, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.

Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.

Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.

We started by making a list of the largest 100 cities in KY based on the 2013 American Community Survey.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:

  • Household income levels
  • High school graduation rates
  • Number of convenience stores
  • Number of drug stores
  • Number of discount stores
  • Crime
  • Twitter mentions of #ghetto

Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.

All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.

For geo-located Tweets, we measured all mentions coming from a city with #ghetto


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1. Somerset

Source: wikipedia

Income: $31,429
Drop out rate: 31%
Discount shopping: 1st in KY

When you look at the data, Somerset is the most ghetto place in the state of Kentucky. Let’s see why.

First of all, this city of under 12,000 people on the Cumberland Parkway is the poorest of the cities we measured. Families here simply struggle to make ends meet every month. While not the absolute poorest place in the state, it is the poorest of the largest 100 cities we measured.

An 8.4% unemployment rate, as well as more than 3 in 10 residents never having completed high school is one big reason for the economic woes.

Additionally, the number of discount shopping outlets per person is the highest in the state in Somerset. Sociologists have indicated that these types of shopping venues (drug stores, discount stores) are a staple of inner city life.

2. Grayson

Source: wikipedia

Income: $40,236
Drop out rate: 33%
Convenience stores: 6th most

Grayson is an Ashland suburb that’s also a very poor and uneducated place. More than 40% of the kids here live in poverty, and there are a high number of convenient stores here.

More than 3 in 10 residents dropped out of high school, and 10% of residents are unemployed. Homes are some of the cheapest in the state here, which is a sign that there’s not a lot of demand to live here.

3. Hazard

Source: wikipedia

Income: $48,884
Drop out rate: 29%
Drug stores: Most

Statistically, according to the FBI, Hazard is the 2nd most dangerous places in Kentucky. Violent crime has increased by 58% from 2011-2013, but property crimes fell by more than 40% in that same period. So that’s good news.

This city with a population of more than 5,000 also has the highest concentration of drug stores in the state. And while the population here is exploding (up 10% in the last 10 years), the jobless rate is more than 11%.

So there are no jobs and more people.

4. London

Source: wikipedia

Income: $37,384
Discount stores: 3rd most
Dropout rate: 29%

Half of the population under 18 and over 65 lives in poverty in London, a smallish city of about 8,000 people in southeast Kentucky.

The population here has plummeted more than 12% in the last 10 years. Perhaps a jobless rate of 8% and an uneducated population means people are trying to move to areas that have a more stable economy.

5. Paducah

Source: wikipedia

Income: $41,293
Drop out rate: 21%
Discount outlets: 10th most

Paducah is the largest city to make this list, meaning technically, it’s the biggest ghetto in the state.

Yes, we’re aware that there are pockets in the Paducah area that are horribly dangerous and very broke. But overall, these small areas are outweighed by the population as a whole. And the fact remains, Paducah is more ‘ghetto’ than other larger cities.

Paducah was 5th in terms of ghetto Tweets. Example:

“you ever lived in the ghetto at night??? Lol especially Paducah!? Scary place.”

6. Russellville

Source: wikipedia

Income: $41,283
Drop out rate: 34%
Convenience stores: 8th most

There were quite a few Tweets talking about the ‘ghetto side’ of Russellville, meaning there are definitely good and bad areas of this small city on Route 68 near the Tennessee state line.

“Driving in the Russellville ghetto and three 10 year olds flashed gang signs at me. Pretty sure they could’ve killed me too.”

Sadly, a 34% dropout rate isn’t even enough to crack the top 10 in Kentucky, which is one of the last educated states in the U.S.

7. Mayfield

Source: wikipedia

Income: $41,275
Drop out rate: 32%
Crime: 7th worst

More than half of kids and the elderly live in poverty in Mayfield, a small city on the Tennessee line.

The unemployment rate is 8.5%, and homes average just over $70,000 each, a sure sign that people don’t view Mayfield as a viable option for long-term living.

8. Columbia

Source: Public Domain

Income: $40,815
Drop out rate: 46%
Drug stores: 13th

When you look at the data, Columbia is one of the most ghetto place in the state of Kentucky.

First of all, this city of under 5,000 people on the Cumberland Parkway is very uneducated and mostly poor. Clearly, when almost half of the population is without a high school diploma, you’re going to have some issues to deal with.

While residents aren’t as poor as some of the tinier communities in Kentucky, families earn the 8th lowest incomes of the 100 largest cities we measured. 40% of kids live in poverty here.

9. Carrollton

Source: wikipedia

Income: $45,033
Drop out rate: 35%

A staggering 60% of kids and folks over 65 struggle just to make ends meet every single month in Carrollton, a small city at the confluence of the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers.

While the population has trickled upwards, jobs are hard to come by, as is evident by a 7.5% unemployment rate.

Surprisingly, for such a small place, Carrollton had lots of #ghetto Tweets:

“Carrollton crossing so ghetto, i’m moving next year.”

10. Paintsville

Source: wikipedia

Income: $44,505
Drop out rate: 33%
Drug stores: 3rd most

This city of just under 4,000 people has a 10% unemployment rate. Perhaps its isolation along Route 460 is one reason the economy here stinks.

Paintsville is relatively poor and uneducated. About 1 in 3 residents never completed high school.

There You Have It

If you’re measuring the locations in Kentucky where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.

Additionally, here are the least ghetto places in Kentucky: Reidland, Villa Hills, Edgewood, Oakbrook, St. Matthews.

We also wrote about the 10 Most Redneck Cities In Kentucky if you didn’t happen to see it.

Desktop users, below is a ghetto ranking chart of all large cities in Kentucky, along with their dropout numbers:

City Dropout rate Rank
somerset 30.90% 1
grayson 32.70% 2
hazard 28.50% 3
london 28.40% 4
paducah 21.20% 5
russellville 33.80% 6
mayfield 31.70% 7
columbia 46.20% 8
carrollton 34.60% 9
paintsville 32.60% 10
pikeville 23.40% 11
glasgow 32.40% 12
corbin 29.40% 13
lebanon 27.70% 14
campbellsville 35.20% 15
maysville 26.50% 16
cynthiana 33.70% 17
scottsville 30.60% 18
mount sterling 30.30% 19
shelbyville 26.30% 20
versailles 27.90% 21
leitchfield 32.90% 22
murray 17.50% 23
franklin 29.90% 24
williamsburg 34.60% 25
frankfort 24.00% 26
richmond 24.10% 27
winchester 31.20% 27
monticello 42.30% 29
princeton 30.70% 30
berea 24.50% 31
shepherdsville 26.20% 32
bardstown 23.00% 33
oak grove 21.20% 34
bowling green 22.60% 35
la grange 17.00% 36
harrodsburg 33.60% 37
newport 34.10% 38
louisville 19.60% 39
elizabethtown 17.80% 40
central city 30.20% 41
owensboro 21.70% 42
prospect 3.00% 43
hopkinsville 24.20% 44
florence 15.30% 45
crescent springs 13.40% 46
henderson 25.40% 47
covington 29.10% 48
bellevue 19.10% 49
greenville 22.30% 50
danville 22.00% 51
benton 26.50% 52
buckner 35.90% 53
dayton 33.50% 54
radcliff 18.00% 55
hebron 6.90% 55
morehead 22.00% 57
madisonville 23.00% 58
paris 24.20% 59
lawrenceburg 19.20% 60
georgetown 18.70% 61
elsmere 26.30% 62
ashland 20.30% 63
crestwood 14.40% 64
highland heights 16.80% 64
nicholasville 26.10% 66
vine grove 22.20% 67
cold spring 9.10% 68
middlesborough 38.20% 69
williamstown 21.70% 70
mount washington 20.20% 71
farley 32.60% 72
erlanger 14.10% 73
fort mitchell 6.00% 74
fort wright 6.60% 75
flatwoods 21.30% 76
union 2.00% 77
fort knox 7.70% 78
middletown 7.10% 79
alexandria 11.30% 80
lexington-fayette 15.30% 81
lyndon 11.70% 82
ludlow 23.00% 83
jeffersontown 12.10% 84
shively 24.10% 85
burlington 10.50% 86
hillview 26.20% 86
hurstbourne 3.50% 88
fort thomas 9.10% 89
hendron 16.90% 90
independence 15.40% 91
francisville 8.70% 92
taylor mill 13.70% 93
douglass hills 4.50% 94
massac 9.40% 95
st. matthews 7.70% 96
oakbrook 6.70% 97
edgewood 4.50% 98
villa hills 8.50% 99
reidland 12.00% 100
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.