Seven Valley cities make USA Today’s ‘worst cities to live in America’ list

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On Thursday, USA Today released its list of 50 “worst cities to live in America.” Seven cities in the Central Valley made the scathing list – including the top spot.

USA Today’s criteria included population, poverty rate, violent crimes, and home values.

RELATED: Get the full list of cities on USA Today’s website here.

Here’s the list of Central Valley cites USA Today picked:

#48: Orange Cove

Here are the stats used by USA Today for Orange Cove:

• Population: 9,567
• Poverty rate: 45.9 percent (top 10 percent)
• 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 600 (top 25 percent)
• Median home value: $114,300 (bottom 25 percent)

Here’s USA Today’s reasoning:

Orange Cove is one of the poorest cities in the country. Nearly 46 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and about half of all households earn less than $26,000 a year. Low incomes and financial hardship are partially the product of a weak job market. The city’s five-year average unemployment rate of 7.8 percent is well above the comparable national rate of 4.1 percent.

For residents of Orange Cove with disposable income, local entertainment options are limited. The area’s concentration of places like bars, restaurants, theatres, and museums is far lower than the average nationwide.

#47: Arvin

Here are the stats used by USA Today for Arivn:

• Population: 20,826
• Poverty rate: 27.5 percent (top 10 percent)
• 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 1,071 (top 10 percent)
• Median home value: $132,300

Here’s USA Today’s reasoning:

Arvin is one of three California cities in the Bakersfield metro area to rank among the worst places to live. With 1,071 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents, Arvin is the most dangerous city in the broader Bakersfield metro area. Crime is often more common in poorer areas, and more than one in every four Arvin residents live below the poverty line.

Like most other California cities on this list, Arvin does not have much to offer in the way of cultural or entertainment options. There are far fewer restaurants, bars, recreation centers, museums, and theatres per capita in Arvin than is typical nationwide.

#42: Taft

Here are the stats used by USA Today for Taft:

• Population: 9,224
• Poverty rate: 24.1 percent (top 25 percent)
• 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 884 (top 10 percent)
• Median home value: $150,100

Here’s USA Today’s reasoning:

The typical home in California is worth $443,400. While the state has some of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, Taft is not one of them. The median home value in Taft is just $150,100 – well below the median home value nationwide of $193,500. The area’s high violent crime rate may be suppressing property values. There were 884 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in Taft in 2017, more than double the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000 people.

Many who live in Taft are financially insecure. Nearly one in every four residents live in poverty, one of the higher poverty rates of any U.S. city.

#30: Corcoran

Here are the stats used by USA Today for Corcoran:

• Population: 22,650
• Poverty rate: 35.6 percent (top 10 percent)
• 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 349
• Median home value: $122,700 (bottom 25 percent)

Here’s USA Today’s reasoning:

Corcoran, California ranks among the worst cities to live in largely because of widespread financial hardship. The city’s 35.6 percent poverty rate is among the highest in the state and more than double the 14.6 percent national poverty rate. For those in the city with disposable income, there are not many local entertainment options. The number of venues like bars, restaurants, theaters, museums, and recreation centers per person is far lower in Corcoran than is typical nationwide.

As is true in many cities on this list, Corcoran’s population is shrinking. The number of people living in the city fell by 7.3 percent over the last five years.

#21: Firebaugh

Here are the stats used by USA Today for Firebaugh:

• Population: 8,275
• Poverty rate: 30.0 percent (top 10 percent)
• 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 320
• Median home value: $150,700

Here’s USA Today’s reasoning:

Areas with lower levels of education tend to have lower of incomes and higher poverty rates. This holds true in the case of Firebaugh, California. Just 6.3 percent of Firebaugh adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.9 percent of U.S. adults. Three in 10 city residents live in poverty, more than double the U.S. poverty rate. At least half of all city households earn less than $42,000 per year.

The five-year unemployment rate in Firebaugh of 11 percent is more than double the U.S. unemployment rate over that time. The area’s job market appears to be improving however. Total employment increased by 15 percent over the last five years, far outpacing the comparable 6.1 percent employment growth nationwide.

#10: Avenal

Here are the stats used by USA Today for Avenal:

• Population: 13,119
• Poverty rate: 36.3 percent (top 10 percent)
• 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 548 (top 25 percent)
• Median home value: $129,900

Here’s USA Today’s reasoning:

Avenal, California ranks as one of the 10 worst cities to live in part because it is losing jobs at a much faster rate than almost anywhere else in the country. From 2012 to 2017, employment dropped by more than 23 percent in the California city. This is at least partially explained by the fact that, in the same time period, the city’s population dropped by 14.5 percent.

Real estate in California is typically much more expensive than the average nationwide, as most homes cost more than $440,000 compared to the median of $193,500 nationwide. Yet in Avenal, the typical home is worth less than $130,000, a reflection of low incomes in the area. More than one in every three Avenal residents live below the poverty line.

#1: Mendota

Here are the stats used by USA Today for Mendota:

• Population: 11,396
• Poverty rate: 49.5 percent (top 10 percent)
• 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 646 (top 25 percent)
• Median home value: $139,000

Here’s USA Today’s reasoning:

For both individuals and broad populations, incomes tend to rise with educational attainment. In Mendota, California, just 1.8 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree, the smallest share of any U.S. city. The city also has one of the poorest populations in the country. Half of all households earn less than $27,500 a year, and 49.5 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

The widespread financial insecurity is partially attributable to a lack of jobs. The Census estimates that an average of 15.4 percent of the city’s labor force were unemployed in the last five years, the highest unemployment rate of any U.S. city and more than triple the comparable 4.1 percent national rate.

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