Ah, the P.A. Where you’ve got two liberal bookends, and in between, some pretty rural stretches of conservatism. The only place in the country where all the sports teams have the same colors, and where the fans actually know what the heck they’re talking about.
And then there’s the food and the culture. Plus, Pittsburgh has been named as one of the best cities in the nation many times over now.
Pennsylvania might be one of the most interesting and unique states in the nation.
Is it all good in the Keystone State? Of course not. Just like every other state, PA has its least desirable spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which places are the worst you could possibly live in if you make Pennsylvania your home.
After analyzing 174 of the state’s most populous cities (over 5,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Pennsylvania:
- Mckeesport (Photos)
- Clairton (Photos)
- Duquesne (Photos)
- Chester (Photos)
- Johnstown (Photos)
- Darby (Photos)
- Reading (Photos)
- Aliquippa (Photos)
- Tamaqua (Photos)
- Mckees Rocks (Photos)
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case. We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Pennsylvania for 2018
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered — leaving 174 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 174 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one ‘Worst Place To Live Score’.
Finally, we ranked every city on the ‘Worst Place To Live Score’ with the lowest score being the worst city in Pennsylvania — McKeesport. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Pennsylvania.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Population: 19,529 Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $45,700 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.2% (7th worst)
Mckeesport is another place in the Keystone State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Mckeesport is a staggering 15.2%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($26,271 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $45,700, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Mckeesport is bad, but not horrible.
Population: 6,719Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 6)
Home Values: $47,000 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (9th worst)
Clairton is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Clairton is the 4th most dangerous place you can live in Pennsylvania.
Residents in Clairton have a 1 in 8.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Clairton, where average homes are valued at only$47,000. That’s the 6th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
Population: 5,534Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Home Values: $36,000 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 24.8% (1st worst)
You might have passed through Duquesne once and probably throught it seems to be a relatively quiet, clean place.
Here’s what science says about why Duquesne needs some love: The unemployment rate is nearly 24.8%, residents earn about $21,495 a year, and home prices are just over $36,000. Across the board, those are in the bottom half in the state. Not absolutely horrible, but not desirable, either.
And there simply isn’t anything to do in Duquesne.
Population: 34,056Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $66,800 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.0% (3rd worst)
Chester, PA needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 19.0%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 17th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 32.5 chance of being robbed here every year.
Oh yeah, and they had 22 murders a couple of years back.
Chester is right along the Delaware river, south of Philly. Youse could find a much better place to call home.
Population: 20,169Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Home Values: $42,400 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.7% (5th worst)
Welcome to Johnstown, which might be one of the poorest areas in the state. Residents average $24,075 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 3700.0% of Johnstown residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $42,400 and the unemployment rate hovers near 15.7%. According to Wikipedia, several efforts have been made over the years to fix the eroding city, including cleaning up the drug use, as the population is leaving its city limits. The city has seen a 12% decrease in population in the last 10 years.
Johnstown is located two hours east of Pittsburgh on Route 119.
Population: 10,677Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 3)
Home Values: $74,000 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (31st worst)
Darby is a hot mess right now. There are some big economic problems here AND crime is really high. In fact, Darby is the 12th most dangerous place you can live in Pennsylvania.
Residents in Darby have a 1 in 26.8 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That’s a lot of stolen laptops, cell phones and sunglasses.
When you’re considering home prices, you can’t do much lower than in Darby, where average homes are valued at only$74,000. That’s the 24th-lowest in the state. But residents earn far less than in other cities, so their mortgage payments might still seem overwhelming.
Population: 87,899Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 3)
Home Values: $68,400 (19th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 18.8% (4th worst)
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Reading is the 7th worst place in the state of Pennsylvania.
The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Reading is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Reading are the 19th lowest in the entire state.
And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Pennsylvania.
Population: 9,258Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Home Values: $65,200 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.3% (27th worst)
Aliquippa is a really small, densely populated place in Pennsylvania.
The unemployment rate here is sky high at 11.3%, and income levels are the 28th lowest in Pennsylvania. Homes sell for an average of $65,200.
If you’re trying to have some sort of professional career in Pennsylvania, this is one of the last places you would want to live.
Population: 6,901Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $56,100 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (39th worst)
Tamaqua is another coal mining town in this same region of the state (south of Hazleton).
Here, homes are priced at $56,100, and residents earn around $32,545 a year, combined. Crime and education aren’t horrible, but they’re not great, either.
At least they have a Wawa within an hour distance in any direction.
10. Mckees Rocks
Population: 6,046 Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Home Values: $43,500 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.1% (54th worst)
Mckees Rocks is another place in the Keystone State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Mckees Rocks is a staggering 9.1%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($29,431 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $43,500, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Mckees Rocks is bad, but not horrible.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Pennsylvania
If you’re looking at areas in Pennsylvania with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, McKeesport ranks as the worst city to live in Pennsylvania for 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Pennsylvania:
- Camp Hill (Pop. 7,912)
- Clarks Summit (Pop. 5,041)
- Swarthmore (Pop. 6,218)
For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Pennsylvania
- These Are The 10 Snobbiest Cities In Pennsylvania
- Americans Try To Pronounce Pennsylvania City Names For The First Time.
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Pennsylvania