Report: Poverty and crime put 5 Alabama cities on list of 50 worst places to live

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Poverty rate in Alabama_2018
Poverty rate in Alabama [Photo Credit: Alabama Possible]

A list of the 50 worst cities in America to live in has been compiled by 24/7 Wall Street, and five Alabama cities have made the list. 24/7 is a web based news source which according to their website that has seen articles “republished by many of the largest news sites and portals, including MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, Time.com, USAToday, and The Huffington Post”.

According to the study’s authors the list was determined metrics that rank “high crime rates, widespread poverty, weak job markets, and little in the way of entertainment options or cultural attractions.” California had the most cities on the list with ten. You can view the entire methodology here.

Lowest on the list is Arab, located in Marshall County. With a population of around 8,200, the poverty rate is more than 17 percent.  With 549 violent crimes per 100,000 people, it is in the top 25 percent of cities for that measure.That is more than double the national average.

24/7 Wall Street says “Few U.S. cities are shedding jobs faster than the northern Alabama city of Arab. In the last five years, the number of people working in the city declined by 9.8%, even as employment across the U.S. as a whole climbed by 6.1%.”

Next is Fairfield, which comes in just one place higher, at 34th. Part of the Birmingham metropolitan area, Fairfield has a population of nearly 11,000 with just over 25 percent living below the poverty line. Their violent crime rate of 1,905 per 100,000 people puts them in the top 10 percent, while the median home value of $96,000 puts that in the bottom 25 percent. Like Arab, unemployment is a major problem. While national unemployment is 4.1 percent, Fairfield comes in at 7 percent.

Pritchard ranks 12th on the list. A key factor in this is job loss, losing 17 percent of their jobs in the last five years, one of the highest rates in the country. Over that same period, employment nationally went up 6.1 percent. Perhaps because of this job loss, the median salary in Pritchard is $25,000 (less than half of the U.S. median), and their population dropped by 3.4 percent.

Pritchard’s poverty rate (35.1 percent) and violent crime rate (1,826 per 100,000) are in the top 10 percent nationwide and the median home value ($67,400) is in the bottom ten percent.

Anniston comes in at ninth place. Anniston has the most violent crimes per 100,000 people (3,434) of any city in the country, 24/7 Wall Street reports. The poverty rate of nearly 30 percent is in the top ten percent nationally, and the city’s population has declined nearly five percent in the last five years. At the same time, the number of people working within that city is just over 10 percent.

Coming in as the sixth worst city in America in which to live, and the worst in Alabama, is Bessemer. Just behind Anniston, Bessemer comes in second for violent crimes per 100,000 people (2,986) according to 24/7 Wall Street. “Nearly 30% of residents live in poverty, and more than one in three residents have low access to grocery store or super markets. The typical Bessemer home earns less than $32,000 a year, well below the U.S. median annual household income of $57,652,” the site reads.

Changes on the way?

Things could be changing. Gov. Kay Ivey has made workforce development a key initiative, and companies and government entities are moving into Alabama or expanding, bringing tens of thousands of jobs with them. Ivey won the Business Council of Alabama‘s (BCA) 2018 Chairman’s Award for pro-business initiatives which had, at that time, already brought an $8 billion investment and 16,000 jobs to the state.

“Governor Ivey’s support of a thriving business climate has been key to landing coveted economic projects including the new Toyota-Mazda plant and its 4,000 anticipated jobs to north Alabama,” said BCA chairman Gary Hand. “Governor Ivey supports a business environment which grows tech companies and she continues to be a strong recruiter of companies in the automotive, aviation, and aerospace sectors.”