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 170 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)
- Duquesne (Photos)
- Chester (Photos)
- Clairton (Photos)
- Johnstown (Photos)
- Darby (Photos)
- Reading (Photos)
- McKees Rocks (Photos)
- Tamaqua (Photos)
- York (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. And the worst place to live in Pennsylvania? That would be McKeesport.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Pennsylvania
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Pennsylvania
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Pennsylvania
How we determined the worst places to live in Pennsylvania for 2019
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 170 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 170 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.
Out of all the places to live in Pennsylvania, Mckeesport ranks as the 1st worst — not something to brag about.
Mckeesport’s unemployment rate stands at 15.7%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $28,750 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.
Additionally, the homes are the 6th cheapest in the entire state at $46,100. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there’s not a lot of demand to live way out in Mckeesport. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?
Crime is the 9th worst in the state. You have a 1 in 33.7 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 43 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Duquesne is the 7th most dangerous city in Pennsylvania. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 25.4 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Duquesne might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Duquesne are really low. People here earn about $24,390 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Duquesne are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Pennsylvania than in Duquesne.
Chester, PA needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 18.1%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 10th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 30.4 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.
Clairton, part of Allegheny County, is the 4th worst place to live in Pennsylvania for 2019.
. Residents here earn almost the lowest salaries per year relative to any other residents in the state at $31,112, and crime 69th worst in Pennsylvania.
Additionally, the poverty level is 28.2% in Clairton.
Welcome to Johnstown, which might be one of the poorest areas in the state. Residents average $23,636 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 37.9% of Johnstown residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $41,500 and the unemployment rate hovers near 16.1%. 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.
Darby, PA needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 10.6%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 8th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 26.7 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
Say what you want about how beautiful Reading might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 3rd highest in the state at 16.9%. Homes are the 18th lowest priced ($69,500), and the median income per household is just a tad over $28,755.
The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.
Mckees Rocks is just a tiny place in the middle of nowhere where people have a hard time making ends meet. Folks here earn barely more than $28,571 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for Pennsylvania, a 7.1% unemployment rate is really high.
Crime is also the 4th highest in Pennsylvania here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.
Tamaqua is another coal mining town in this same region of the state (south of Hazleton).
Here, homes are priced at $60,300, and residents earn around $33,545 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.
While numbers in Pennsylvania are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Pennsylvania cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in York average $74,400, which is the 23rd lowest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in York.
Plus, 35.8% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 26th highest in the state here. Every year, when you’re within York city limits, you have a 1 in 34.2 chance of being robbed. That’s a lot of broken into cars and homes.
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 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Pennsylvania:
- Swarthmore (Pop. 6,243)
- Collegeville (Pop. 5,221)
- Camp Hill (Pop. 7,906)
For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Pennsylvania
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Pennsylvania
- 10 Safest Places In Pennsylvania
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Pennsylvania
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Pennsylvania