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.
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 1st worst in Pennsylvania.
Mckeesport residents had a 1 in 33.7 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Mckeesport is through the roof, as more than 15.7% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $46,100, Mckeesport has the 6th-lowest home prices in the state of Pennsylvania.
Duquesne’s situation is very similar to others on the list; bottom of the barrel scores in unemployment, income, and crime, with decent education statistics keeping it from the very top of this list.
Duquesne has the 7th worst crime index of any place in Pennsylvania, and has the 2nd lowest income.
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.
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.
Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Pennsylvania.
If commute time is important, Clairton residents have the 8th longest commute of any residents on our list.
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.
Darby doesn’t have it much better, in terms of overall economic outlook. The unemployment rate is at 10.6%, and people average less than $38,152 a year in combined household incomes. Homes stand at $70,300, which is very low, and crime in the worst 10% in Pennsylvania.
And again, in terms of the overall ‘enjoyment’ factor, it’s not easy to find fun on a Friday night.
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.
Reading takes the 8th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Reading its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 47th worst in the whole state.
Things are starting to get progressively more ‘modern’ and in line with what you expect in a great state such as Pennsylvania when we get to Philadelphia. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 11.3% (which is really high), and the median income is $40,649. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren’t a complete mess.
Mckees Rocks is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and “fun”. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Mckees Rocks residents earn the 5th-lowest salaries in the state. At $28,571 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $39,600, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.
Crime is the 4th highest in Pennsylvania per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 78th highest in the state, at 7.1%.
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