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 175 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)
- Darby (Photos)
- Reading (Photos)
- Chester (Photos)
- Johnstown (Photos)
- Mckees Rocks (Photos)
- Clairton (Photos)
- Aliquippa (Photos)
- Tamaqua (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 2017.
How we determined the worst places to live in Pennsylvania for 2017
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 175 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 175 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.
Population: 19,637 Home Values: $47,100 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.9% (10th worst)
If you’re looking to live in Pennsylvania, Mckeesport might not be the best choice as it places 1st in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Keystone State for 2015.
The average family earns $25,697 a year out here, and 28.8% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 14.9% 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 Mckeesport, every year, you have a 1 in 33.2 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 15th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Population: 5,556Home Values: $38,600 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 23.9% (1st worst)
If, by some reason, you were driving through Duquesne, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.
It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($19,776) and they can’t get good jobs (23.9% unemployment rate).
Duquesne ranks as the 2nd wost place in Pennsylvania.
Population: 10,693Home Values: $76,700 (29th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.6% (14th worst)
Darby, where there’s absolutely nothing to do unless you enjoy bowling, ranks as the 3rd worst city in Pennsylvania.
Besides the lack of pure amenities, Darby has some real economic problems to contend with. The unemployment rate hovers near 14.6%, and families earn around $33,750 a year. It’s also the 7th highest in Pennsylvania for crime, where 1 in 27.7 people gets robbed every year.
Does living in a place where people who come to visit are robbed sound like fun?
Population: 88,057Home Values: $67,600 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.1% (2nd worst)
While the median household income in Reading is higher than other towns on this list, causing it to be lower down on the list of “worst cities”, Reading still has the 2nd worst unemployment rate in the state, as well as the 48th worst crime index.
Therefore, though the average Reading household brings in a higher income, there are fewer people working here than in other cities across the state. It doesn’t help that everyone has to be constantly worried about crime, either.
Population: 34,016Home Values: $67,900 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 20.0% (3rd worst)
Chester, PA needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 20.0%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 22nd highest in the state. You have a 1 in 33.8 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: 20,369Home Values: $43,100 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 16.2% (7th worst)
Welcome to Johnstown, which might be one of the poorest areas in the state. Residents average $24,415 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 28.1% of Johnstown residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $43,100 and the unemployment rate hovers near 16.2%. 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.
7. Mckees Rocks
Population: 6,075 Home Values: $46,300 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (47th worst)
If, by some reason, you were driving through Mckees Rocks, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.
It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($28,972) and they can’t get good jobs (10.0% unemployment rate).
Mckees Rocks ranks as the 7th wost place in Pennsylvania.
Population: 6,752Home Values: $46,600 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 14.7% (11th worst)
Clairton ranks as the 8th worst city on this list.
Clairton has the 82nd highest crime rate in Pennsylvania, where residents have a 1 in 51.5 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the 6th cheapest in the state ($46,600), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
Population: 9,296Home Values: $64,700 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 12.7% (23rd worst)
If you’re looking to live in Pennsylvania, Aliquippa might not be the best choice as it places 9th in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Keystone State for 2015.
The average family earns $30,851 a year out here, and 27.9% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 12.7% 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 Aliquippa, every year, you have a 1 in 51.1 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 74th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Population: 6,949Home Values: $58,000 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (41st worst)
Tamaqua is another coal mining town in this same region of the state (south of Hazleton).
Here, homes are priced at $58,000, and residents earn around $35,741 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.
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 2017.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Pennsylvania:
- Camp Hill (Pop. 7,886)
- Clarks Summit (Pop. 5,067)
- Lititz (Pop. 9,208)
For more Pennsylvania reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Pennsylvania
- These Are The 10 Happiest Cities In Pennsylvania
- These Are The 10 Best Allentown Suburbs
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Pennsylvania