The 10 Worst Places To Live In Pennsylvania For 2020


We used science and data to determine which cities in PA are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst places to live in Pennsylvania.

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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 5,100 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in the state of Pennsylvania:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Pennsylvania For 2020

  1. McKeesport
  2. Duquesne
  3. Chester
  4. Johnstown
  5. Clairton
  6. Darby
  7. Coatesville
  8. Reading
  9. Connellsville
  10. York

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 2020.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Pennsylvania For 2020

Mckeesport, PA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 19,365
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $46,500 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.1% (9th worst)
More on Mckeesport:  Data | Photos

The unemployment rate in Mckeesport is a sky high 13.1%, which is the 9th highest in the state. Ouch.

The median income in Mckeesport is $29,312. That means 32.9% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn't horrible here, but you have a 1 in 38.3 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you're within city limits every year.

Duquesne, PA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 5,544
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $39,600 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.6% (6th worst)
More on Duquesne:  Data | Photos

Duquesne is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $39,600. That means it ranks as the 2nd lowest in Pennsylvania.

You can make a case that based on the fact that Duquesne has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 17th worst in the state, it's one of the worst places you can live in Pennsylvania.

Chester, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 33,977
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $67,800 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.8% (3rd worst)
More on Chester:  Data | Photos

Chester, PA needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 14.8%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 7th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 29.5 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.

Johnstown, PA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 19,812
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $39,700 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (4th worst)
More on Johnstown:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Johnstown, which might be one of the poorest areas in the state. Residents average $24,294 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 38.7% of Johnstown residents live below the poverty level.

Homes here go for an average of $39,700 and the unemployment rate hovers near 14.2%. 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.

Clairton, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,640
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $43,800 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.0% (2nd worst)
More on Clairton:  Data | Photos

Clairton 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 $31,374 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for Pennsylvania, a 15.0% unemployment rate is really high.

Crime is also the 50th highest in Pennsylvania here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.

Darby, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 10,699
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $74,600 (22nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (14th worst)
More on Darby:  Data | Photos

Say what you want about how beautiful Darby might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.

The unemployment rate rankss 14th highest in the state at 10.8%. Homes are the 22nd lowest priced ($74,600), and the median income per household is just a tad over $43,406.

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.

Coatesville, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 13,147
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 8)
Median Home Value: $117,800 (74th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (11th worst)
More on Coatesville:  Data | Photos

If you're looking to live in Pennsylvania, Coatesville might not be the best choice as it places 7th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Keystone State for 2020.

The average family earns $39,577 a year out here, and 28.2% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 11.8% of the population is out of work.

And when you consider the crime, it's just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you're in Coatesville, every year, you have a 1 in 44.0 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it's an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it's the 22nd most dangerous place in the state, per capita.

Reading, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 88,211
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $70,800 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 15.5% (1st worst)
More on Reading:  Data | Photos

Reading is the 39th most dangerous place in the state of Pennsylvania. That's part of the reason it's the 8th worst place in Pennsylvania.

The fact remains, that when you're within Reading city limits, you have a 1 in 44.5 chance of being robbed or having something you own vandalized.Does that sound like a fun place to live?

Did you know Reading also has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 15.5%? Or that homes are only valued at $70,800?

Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there's little demand to live in Reading.

Connellsville, PA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,427
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $89,400 (43rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (28th worst)
More on Connellsville:  Data | Photos

Connellsville is one of the poorest cities in the state of Pennsylvania. This city has 9.0% of its residents out of work, and those who have jobs earn under $33,884 a year.

Cities can be charming, but not when they are dangerous. Connellsville has the 14th highest crime rate in Pennsylvania. While the numbers aren't staggering (Pennsylvania is a relatively safe place when you compare it to the rest of the country), it's still undesirable when you consider that there are far safer (and more stimulating) places to make your home in the Keystone State.

York, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 44,044
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $75,200 (24th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (8th worst)
More on York:  Data | Photos

If you live in York, you're either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn't matter, because science says it's the 10th worst place to live in the state.

You've got the 24th highest crime rate in Pennsylvania, which saw 450 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 38.7 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 97 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of York.

Plus, folks are simply out of work. York sports the state's 8th highest unemployment rate (13.2%), and families bring in a combined $30,283 a year, which is far below the state average.

No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $75,200.

How we determined the worst places to live in Pennsylvania for 2020

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

The data comes from the Census's most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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. You can download the data here.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

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 2020.

If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Pennsylvania:

  1. Conshohocken (Pop. 8,010)
  2. Bellefonte (Pop. 6,289)
  3. Camp Hill (Pop. 7,911)

For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Pennsylvania?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Mckeesport 19,365 13.1% $46,500
2 Duquesne 5,544 13.6% $39,600
3 Chester 33,977 14.8% $67,800
4 Johnstown 19,812 14.2% $39,700
5 Clairton 6,640 15.0% $43,800
6 Darby 10,699 10.8% $74,600
7 Coatesville 13,147 11.8% $117,800
8 Reading 88,211 15.5% $70,800
9 Connellsville 7,427 9.0% $89,400
10 York 44,044 13.2% $75,200

How Is The Area In ?

48 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Pennsylvania For 2020

  1. The facts are screwed from the get go. You’re comparing cities with different populations. I you compare a city with 20people with 6 crimes being committed of course is it going to be the worse, then a city with 30people with the same number of crimes. What you should be comparing is the nature of crimes. You can’t compare drunk and disorderly to a double homicide.

  2. Shenandoah is a filthy blighted town. Crime rate is high. Drug arrests is common. Drug traffic is from reading, pa and NYC via latino community. Average home cost is 6000.00. there are so many abandoned homes .

    Tamaqua- this is a charming town. Homes are kept up. Downtown area is busy and has businesses. They have invested a lot of money into this town.

    I know…….I live near these areas

  3. This article s a crock of you know what, nothing even mentioning Pittsburg. I’m sorry but Pittsburg should have at least made the list. Just someone’s written opinion, stats are one sided and not accurate .

  4. Hi, Just a FYI not that it really matters but THAT IS NOT A PHOTO OF CORRY! I understand the rating I was born here grew up here ~ IT has just recently become quite crappy. The picture you have of it is not Corry, if you need one for you’re story I can send you one. But that is not ANY location in Corry.
    As for crime , are you taking petty crime? Not much crime here can’t remember the last time they had a murder.

  5. Yep, the great W-B area is pretty bad now. A.K.A Dodge City. Thanks to all the peeps coming in from god knows where. So if these peeps stop coming to Wilkes-Barre and “Ruining” it for everyone who has been living there maybe it could be a better place. Unbelievable what a pit it has become thanks to the all the disrespectful outsiders coming in thinking they found a place to litter,loot and commit all their crime. We have enough problems here and don’t need anymore. It is going to take many more years to fix the problems that are at hand already, Heyna!!! Lol!!!

  6. I’m not so convinced that “population density” should be given the weight it is in your numbers, as it is the metric most open to unscientific assumptions and radical interpretation. “Better= more things to do indoors” seems to be quite an associative leap, as many high-poverty/high-population-density communities across the country can attest. Urban food deserts and cultural wastelands with faltering transportation infrastructure that seem to illustrate that any such “things to do” assumption is a fallacy.

    Additionally, where boundaries are drawn matters significantly. In central PA, many towns are nestled in valleys between mountain ridges that lack development opportunities and hinder travel, making them densely-packed islands without the ability to access opportunities in adjacent resources. These “dense, but isolated” spots would be rated high for their density, despite their lack of any substantive “indoor thing to do” besides hang out at the walmart Friday nights. Yet, this community would be rated higher than one in the rolling foothills with well-planned parkland and ample infrastructure that would residents travel twice as far in half the time, allowing them to choose between hanging out at their local walmart on Friday nights or the one in the next town over…

    Finally, when I look at the numbers for a region like “Pittsburgh”, your population count suggests you’re using the MSA or CSA data. In Pittsburgh’s case, that includes several counties’ worth of data that can take considerable time to traverse, represent some of the most distressed towns in the state and some of the most affluent. Comparing that, in aggregate, seems absurd enough, but by using density as a positive metric like this, a small, rather isolated town like Lewisburg higher, as “more likely to have indoor stuff to do” than a town where you can’t go more than 90 feet in any direction without going past a bar/club/restaurant-that-mostly-serves-alcohol sporting “Stillers” jerseys in the windows?”

  7. You are trying to compare apples and oranges. I live in the Rhone section of Nanticoke, and have for several years now. We still get together in the winter and help each other shovel snow, sit on the porch and have a chat with a neighbor, and wave a friendly hello when you see folk on the street. You assume that if there’s not a ton of things to do entertainment-wise indoors that this counts against us. We in the rural areas don’t need a club and a meal at some fancy restaurant to have fun. How about a picnic at the park with your neighbors, where the kids can play together in the fresh air (gasp!) unplugged from video games. Family hiking, swimming, biking, cross country skiing, there things shouldn’t count against us. I would rather live here where I can take my dog for a walk around the block at 2 am if I want without having to worry about being mugged, thanks. If I want to go to a huge museum, I have a car, and I drive there, but I can’t wait to get back to the small town I call home.

  8. I grew up in Corry and go back anytime I can. That #7 picture isn’t Corry either we don’t have the streets painted on the road.

    1. How dumb can you get? The street notations on the roadway are from Google maps images. They aren’t “painted” on the street. I use to have to travel to Corry as I had an account there, it is as bad as they say. The home town I grew up in in PA is depressing, the jobs have been exported to China and Mexico, the middle class has been decimated, drugs and crime are rampant, it’s not the Beaver Cleaver neighborhood I grew up in. I’m sure for those that stayed the changes are more gradual, but step away for 10-20 years and come back and it can be morbidly depressing. I have relatives still in PA, they wouldn’t think of moving, they think the door will shut behind them and they won’t be able to get back. News Flash- We have things called airplanes and airports, you can be just about anywhere in the U.S in 4-5 hours, and actually get back. There is a huge awesome country out there with lots of great places to visit or live at.

  9. it’s a real shame xenophobia isn’t measured for places because then you get the double whammy of horrible adaptation to post industrial economy + “it’s those brown peoples’ fault”

  10. Crime rates are skewed in places with a large amount of commercial development. That is the case for Dickson City. It does not have a large population, but it does have a great deal of commercial development. When the crimes are divided by the residents, it appears to have a high rate. However, most of that crime is probably in the shopping centers, etc., and not committed against local residents.

  11. I agree that Tamaqua does not deserve to be on the list.

    I’m also not convinced that the Hazelton Area has the 3rd worst school district in the state.

  12. So, in the PA version of this list, population density is a good thing. In the NJ, population density is a bad thing. Keep your story straight!

  13. Lived in Lebanon, Pa. I lived in Philadelphia. I now live in Clearfield, PA. I will tell you that you are all wet with your evaluations. Most of the unemployment problems you cite are due to the demise of heavy industries and the governmental murder of the anthracite and soft coal mining industry. Sorry premise rejected, your urban prejudices are showing.

  14. I would personally like to scrutinize the author and this article. Science and data used to compile this list is laughable. There appear to be no real guidelines or perspective with regards to population, size of municipality nor true fact dogging.
    Tamaqua alone offers all TAHS graduates two free years of continued education. That fact alone skews the education dynamic.
    Furthermore, Tamaqua borough is not the line qualifier for the school district, as it also takes in students from West Penn, Schuylkill, Walker and Rush Township. Those areas have larger lot sizes and represent contributing incomes, quality of life and community sponsorship.
    I find this article to be vastly weakened by the comment science and data used. I also regret losing the 20 mins. In reading and replying, as I will never recoup those.
    Shame, shame.

  15. Tsk. So many people bothered by the fact that they’re told their home city is a pit? Let’s face it; the smtartest move is to leave Pennsylvania as soon as someone is of age.

    Instead of complaining about it, maybe if there were more things for younger generations to actually DO around the towns, they wouldn’t have to turn to getting enjoyment through destroying the area. It was an issue when I was growing up, and now, this is the result after multiple generations. If any — any — of the areas mentioned above were to embrace change rather than desperately hang on to a bygone era of “better times” and look to the future, this wouldn’t be a complete reality.

    It’s a pretty sad state when the biggest conversation on this list is about getting the “right” pictures or who has a Sheetz closest to them! For god sake, let it go. Grow, dammit! Stop living in the boomtown years; they’re gone. Over. Ended. Kaput.

    The state is dead or dying; don’t drag down several generations with it, as well.

    1. Agree completely, the only “industry” left is political corruption. I left 30 years ago for better opportunities and found them. No State Income tax, lower cost of living, paid $1.24 for gas a few months ago. I haven’t had a front end alignment for 30 years and my cars don’t rust out, not to mention enduring long, cold and snowy winters. There are many great places to live in this county, I don’t get the myopic view that you can’t leave home. When I left PA I decided if I didn’t like it where I was going, the highways go in both directions in the country (yes…it’s true) so I could point the car north and hit the gas if I didn’t like it. Not sure why people are afraid to try something new or find better places to exist.

  16. Interesting, but woefully incomplete.
    It is nice to see the Pittsburgh area fares well, but there are many municipalities missing particularly in the suburbs, like Allison Park, McCandless, Richland, Pine, etc.
    Are we to assume that they are good, bad, or somewhere in the middle?
    Try again.

  17. Really? I would put Centralia at the top of the list! Underground coal mine fire spewing toxic gases, and causing most of the town’s residents to evacuate? Almost literally hell on earth!

  18. Heh…

    I live in the Parsons section of Wilkes-Barre, and I totally disagree with this list. Wilkes-Barre at number four? Please. It should be at number one or two. It’s a rotting cesspool of drugs, corruption, and violence. There’s no way Nanticoke beats Wilkes-Barre – all the murders, stabbings, and shootings alone make this a much worse place to be.

  19. Over the years the one consistent thing that I have always heard from anyone who has visited my former hometown of Johnstown, PA is, “oh my God, Johnstown is soooooo damn depressing.” It’s like no other description is available. One size fits all I guess.

  20. Yeah well you take a bunch of these coal mining towns and people with low incomes and then you see people like Hillary Clinton wanting to give socialism a new try where do you think all these new state prisons are located in the old dilapidated towns

  21. Johnstown should be #1. at least in new castle you have brand new highway infrastructure to get you to other areas for jobs. johnstown doesnt have anything

  22. I hate to pick on any one town. Most of Pennsylvania, as someone mentioned previously, has been left to die off as major corporations have moved out, the coal industry is on its death bed–looks that way–and even our own politicians have forgotten those who live in small town Pennsylvania. When I think back to what once was–because I don’t see any salvation. One city in Western Pennsylvania’s Mercer County
    looks as if a bomb was dropped and just allowed to continue to rot. Politicians who continually line there own pockets with tax money just don’t care. I could go on and on.

  23. I am totally shocked Lansford and Coaldale are not on the list. Lansford has many abandon buildings. Hardly any stores. As well as Coaldale .

  24. Why are we discussing the “worst” cities in any state. There is poverty and crime everywhere. No need to embarrass the residents who live there. Am I missing something?

  25. “Corry, PA is an isolated place along Route 6 near the New York state line.”

    Poor research! Taking bare stats at face value tells one little about an area’s features.

    Corry is right on Route 6 as you at least did mention and Downtown Corry is less than one mile off Route 6. Corry is a very historic area geographically and economically with rich history dating back to 1861.

    Given that Route 6 is a major east-west historic corridor, Corry is hardly isolated. In fact, stats show that Corry is in fact within 500 miles of approximately half the population of the US and there is an International airport within 45 minutes of Corry.

    There is so much more to Corry that I don’t have time to go into here. I suggest people spend some time researching Corry online as it is worth a visit for anyone passing by on Route 6.

  26. I left outside of Allentown in 96- burbs outside of Phila and ccity and mainline and bucks Cnty nice – everything else is pensyltucky

    1. Do not move to PA !!! I moved away after highschool lived a wonderful life being away. Came back to PA after death in family and been here for last 6 mnths and I’m so depressed. The people are no it all cocky and cut throat in the workplace. They show 0 respect. It is well appealing. As for the atmosphere and the weather well I’m ready to move back to New Jersey, or back down south to the coastal areas. Before any PA residents start sharing at the mouth think again I’m a bucks county naitive. PA is a disgrace.

      1. Politicans on the state and local levels have raped and pillaged our communities and our citizens for years. Shame!! Same!! Shame!!

      2. I’m a former PA resident (lived there for ~30 years). I moved to a completely different state in a much more urban area, and I cannot describe to you how beneficial this change has been for me. The only good things I can really say about Pennsylvania are that it’s a beautiful state, and that it has many amazing historical sites and state parks/forests.

        Having lived there for as long as I did – in a very, very rural area – I learned quickly that most of the people I interacted with are closed-minded and judgmental. Yes, there are people like that everywhere, but with the isolation that is well-accepted with living rurally, you face dealing with people like this day in and day out. It has been so much more relieving to live in an urban area. Although this state is still a Red state, people here are, as a whole, much more open-minded, willing to think about your opinions instead of telling you that you’re flat out wrong if you disagree with them, etc.

        I love some things about PA. But I’m so glad that I moved. I hope to never move back.

  27. All of these cities keep voting democrat hoping to get free stuff, instead they get drugs, illegal aliens and corrupt politicians.

  28. Why do you have a Google Maps screenshot of Oakland, CA at 0:26 in your video? I mean, the Tribune Tavern building in the background is a dead giveaway.

  29. I lived in Shenandoah my whole life and, like other towns around us, the inner city has found us. You can not control who moves into your community. Every community has a right to be destroyed. It cant all be safe and predominantly white like my town was in the 1980s.

    Industry has been exported and poverty has been imported. One day, your town will be on this list

  30. I’m sorry but Philadelphia definitely should have been on that list if Darby and reading was cause the murder rate and homeless rate is at a all time high.The unemployment rate is very high. The property value is high as well.The education is horrible.The drug problem is outta control. I feel like you should be based on facts. I moved from Philadelphia to Johnstown pa. I got more help here in Johnstown then I ever got living in Philadelphia for 28 years.For it to be a big city it’s very poor as well.

  31. I look forward to your list ,as my birth city where I continue to live usually ranks high on worse place to live ,while ranking high on Forbes best place to raise a family .This year it appears Wilkes barre pa was negated from all list .What does this mean ? Is it being concidered for ultimate place to live in pa ???

  32. I would like to hear some amazing things about Pennsylvania. I’ve been researching places to live and PA was ranking pretty high on the list I’ve compiled for retirement purposes! It depends on what one calls good…but darn it, PA sounds like it’s ALL bad! Doesn’t someone have a sales pitch?

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