Georgia cities have been recognized for attracting millennials, recent graduates, business owners and techies. But according to a new analysis from financial news publication 24/7 Wall St., two Georgia metros are among the worst 50 cities in the country.
The new report, which assessed livability in about 600 U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more in 2016, compared cities across nine major categories: crime, demography, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure and leisure.
Analysts examined specific measures for each category, such as median household income adjusted for cost of living, high school standardized test scores, air quality and weather, access to quality hospitals, number of recreational centers per capita or commuter traffic congestion.
“Quality of life is subjective, and difficult to measure,” 24/7 analysts wrote in the report. “Still, there is a wide range of quantifiable factors that can impact quality of life in a given area.”
Of the 50 cities on the list, 39 have higher than average violent crime rates, as well as unemployment rates above the 4.9 percent nationwide annual average.
Detroit, called “the poster child of American post-industrial urban decline” by researchers, was deemed the worst city in the country. According to the report, more than one in three Detroit residents live below the poverty line. The city’s unemployment rate is at a steep 10.9 percent.
Detroit’s violent crime rate is also higher than most cities. The Michigan city, along with Las Vegas, saw more than 2,000 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016. The national violent crime rate: 386 per 100,000 Americans.
Flint, Michigan, which made headlines last year for its toxic water crisis, came in second on the list with 9.8 percent unemployment rate, the highest poverty rate of any city in the country (44.5 percent) and a violent crime rate of 1,587 incidents per 100,000 people, triple the state’s rate.
Albany: No. 7
Coming in at No. 7: Albany, a city situated three hours south of Atlanta, has seen a decline in its population by 4.8 percent in the last five years, likely due to bleak economic conditions. In fact, the city has the state’s highest unemployment rate (7 percent) — and more than double the state’s and country’s poverty rate (16 percent).
In Albany, the median home value is $88,800. Only 20.1 percent of adults in the Georgia city hold a bachelor’s degree, compared to 31.3 percent of adults nationwide.
Atlanta: No. 47
The second Georgia city on the list is our very own Atlanta, which ranked 47th on the list.
Home to a population of about 472,506 residents, 22.4 percent of whom live below the poverty line, Atlanta’s substantial economic and population booms in recent years have been clouded by the city’s high violent crime rate.
In fact, the metro had three times the national violent crime rate in 2016, with 1,084 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Atlanta residents.
Atlanta was also named one of America’s top 25 murder capitals in 24/7 Wall St.’s 2016 report, based on FBI data.
But, according to a previous AJC report, while murders in Atlanta are up, overall crime has dropped.
Another significant factor for Atlanta, according to 24/7 analysts, is the city’s poor air quality, which was worsened by recent record-setting temperatures. 2016 and 2017 have been Atlanta’s hottest years on record.
The median home value in Atlanta, according to the analysis, is $262,600. More than half (50.5 percent) of the population holds at least a bachelor’s degree, about 20 points higher than the national average (31.3 percent).
While the city may be stained by being on this year’s list at all, it’s important to note that the city improved 10 spots from 24/7 Wall St.’s 2017 report, which ranked Atlanta 37th overall.
Contrary to this assessment, Atlanta was previously recognized among the best big cities in the country by personal finance website WalletHub, which compared the nation’s 62 largest cities on affordability, economy, education/health, quality of life and safety.
Atlanta ranked 27th overall on WalletHub’s list, and ninth overall in highest quality of life.
Last year, a global ranking even deemed Atlanta one of the top cities in the world for quality of life. The 2017 Quality of Life ranking from human resources firm Mercer assessed more than 450 cities worldwide, and included 231 in its final list.
Of the 231 cities, only 17 American cities made the cut. Atlanta came in at No. 65 overall and 13th in the U.S.
In U.S. News & World Report’s most recent “100 Best Places to Live in the USA” analysis, Atlanta ranked 50th, though it scored low in quality of life, likely due to the city’s high crime rates.
The 50 worst cities in America, according to 24/7 Wall St.:
- Flint, Michigan
- St. Louis
- Wilmington, Delaware
- Springfield, Missouri
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Homestead, Florida
- Florence-Graham, California
- San Bernardino, California
- Youngstown, Ohio
- Rockford, Illinois
- Pueblo, Colorado
- Gary, Indiana
- Little Rock, Arkansas
- Compton, California
- Shreveport, Lousiana
- Charleston, West Virginia
- Daytona Beach, Florida
- Stockton, California
- Miami Beach, Florida
- Merced, California
- Oakland, California
- Springfield, Massachusetts
- Dayton, Ohio
- Trenton, New Jersey
- Tuscon, Arizona
- Fresno, California
- Canton, Ohio
- Buffalo, New York
- Toledo, Ohio
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Tallahassee, Florida
- New Haven, Connecticut
- South Bend, Indiana
- North Charleston, South Carolina
- Syracuse, New York
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Tacoma, Washington
- Gainesville, Florida
- Salt Lake City
- Fort Smith, Arkansas