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)
- Tamaqua (Photos)
- Darby (Photos)
- Johnstown (Photos)
- Reading (Photos)
- Philadelphia (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. 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.
According to science, Mckeesport is the 1st worst place you can live in Pennsylvania.
Let’s see why. Mckeesport has the 9th-highest crime rate in the state, surprisingly. In terms of number of crimes per person, Mckeesport is certainly up there.
Factor in a very low housing cost ($46,100), and the 6th-highest unemployment rate in the state (15.7%), and across the board, Mckeesport doesn’t sound like the best of the best.
Plus, there’s simply not a lot to do here (unless you count having a Walmart and a Piggly Wiggly as fun). We’re aware that people enjoy outdoor activities, but in terms of pure entertainment, you’d have to drive a ways away.
Welcome to Duquesne, which might be one of the poorest areas in Pennsylvania. Residents average $24,390 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 36.3% of Duquesne residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $37,800 and the unemployment rate hovers near 19.2%.
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 needs some tough love as it ranks as the 4th worst city to live in Pennsylvania for 2019. There’s not a lot to do here, and when you factor in some of the lowest student support in the state and some of the worst weather, it’s not a place you might want to move to.
And the crime in Clairton is the 69th highest in the state, where 1 in 58.2 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
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.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Pennsylvania, Darby came in 6th. Let’s see why.
The city has very bad crime (8th worst) and an employment rate that’s nearly the highest for cities of its size 10.6%. On the bright side, K-12 student spending is highest here than in the entire state.
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.
There are some bad places to live and some really, really bad places to live. According to the data, Reading is one of the worst places you can live in Pennsylvania. And quite possibly, one of the worst places you can live in, period. Let’s see why.
We’re not economists, but when you have a 16.9% unemployment rate for a city of 88,275 people, that’s a sign that things aren’t just bad. They are downright depressing.
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia ranks 9th worst. Let’s see why.
Here in Philadelphia, crime is the 23rd highest in the state, and 1 out of 32.5 residents was robbed here according to the latest FBI numbers.
That’s not the first place you think of making home, is it?
Additionally, you have a 1 in 105 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, which includes rapes, attacks or murders. That’s really high.
When you look at adult education in Pennsylvania, the folks in Philadelphia have the 16th highest drop out rate. And other factors that make Philadelphia undesirable are the low median incomes and home prices.
The unemployment rate is the 17th highest in Pennsylvania, at 11.3%. That’s actually on par with the national average, which means Pennsylvania has some hard workers.
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 10th worst in Pennsylvania.
Mckees Rocks residents had a 1 in 18.6 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Mckees Rocks is through the roof, as more than 7.1% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $39,600, Mckees Rocks has the 3rd-lowest home prices in the state of Pennsylvania.
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:
- Lititz (Pop. 9,269)
- Conshohocken (Pop. 7,985)
- Camp Hill (Pop. 7,906)
For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire 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