Top 12 Worst-Run Cities in the U.S.


WalletHub recently compared the operating efficiency of 150 of the largest U.S. cities to reveal which among them are managed best — and worst. Here are the top twelve worst-run cities in America.

12. Birmingham, AL

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Birmingham, AL, is the twelfth worst-run city in the nation. But, its mayor, Randall L. Woodfin, is doing something about it. According to the mayor’s website, his goal is to “make Birmingham a laboratory for progress.” He will do so by bringing improvements to economic development, neighborhood revitalization, education/career opportunities for students, and the city’s 99 neighborhoods. He also recently announced a crime-fighting plan to put more police officers on the streets. Mayor Woodfin has also hired a team of people to focus on workforce development, small business growth and civic innovation, so that by 2020 “Birmingham will be seen as the destination for women and minorities to launch their business.”

11. Baton Rouge, LA

Baton Rouge
Source: Wikimedia Commons

One area in which Baton Rouge struggles is crime. WalletHub recently gave the city’s safety a ranking of #142. Meanwhile, real estate website Neighborhood Scout placed Baton Rouge at number 86 on its Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S. list last year.

FYI, here’s a look at how Baton Rouge fares when it comes to other important issues:

-Financial stability: #58
-Education: #120
-Health: #141
-Safety: #142
-Economy: #142
-Infrastructure and pollution: #131
-Overall quality of city services score: 39.63

10. Cleveland, OH

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cleveland has one of the lowest median annual household incomes in the nation. As a result, it’s the second poorest city in the United States, behind Detroit. According to a study conducted by the Center for Community Solutions, the poverty rate in Cuyahoga County is at 18 percent, just slightly above what it was at the height of the Great Recession in 2008, at 15.6 percent. “There are about 220,000 people in Cuyahoga County who are living in poverty and about half of those are working so it’s really about earnings. People can still work and just don’t earn enough to be able to get by,” Emily Campbell, associate director of the Center for Community Solutions, told WEWS News 5 Cleveland. In other words, unemployment is low, but people simply just aren’t able to make ends meet.

9. Memphis, TN

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Memphis has one of the highest violent crimes rates in the country. As a result, the Memphis Police Department has decided to spring into action. According to department’s website, their vision for the city is to create and maintain an environment of public safety recognized for its zero tolerance for crime, as well as its compassion and responsiveness to the needs, rights, and expectations of both residents and visitors.

FYI, here’s how the city ranks when it comes to safety, education, economy, infrastructure, and other issues:

-Safety: #148
-Education: #131
-Economy rank: #128
-Financial stability: #70
-Health: #142
-Infrastructure and pollution rank: #139

Its overall quality of city services score is 37.78.

8. Toledo, OH

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Toledo ranks lower than the national and state (Ohio) averages when it comes to residents who have at least a high school education. Its current ranking in the education category is #115. WNWO NBC 24 in Toledo reported last year that Toledo Public Schools (TPS) received a failing grade from the Ohio Department of Education. The schools were graded on six specific categories (achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation rate, improving at-risk K-3 readers, and prepared for success) and received an F overall. Though district leaders said things were progressing, they acknowledge there is more work to be done. “TPS is moving the needle, it’s not to the point we want it to be, but we will continue to make that growth and we are on the cusp in terms of those indicators of moving those grades,” James Gault, Toledo Public Schools executive transformational leader of curriculum and instruction, told WNWO.

7. Gary, IN

Source: Wikipedia

Not only does Gary, IN, have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, it also has one of the highest percentages of the nation’s population in poverty. As a result, the mayor and city council have implemented a financial plan focusing on green infrastructure programs and data use. The city’s current ranking for infrastructure is #144.

Other rankings are as follows:

-Education: #105
-Financial stability: #24
-Economy: #149
-Health: #147
-Safety: #73
-Pollution rank: #144
-Overall quality of city services score: 37.24

6. Stockton, CA

Source: Wikimedia Commons By Clotee Pridgen Alloc… [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Stockton, CA, ranks (currently at #150) one of the lowest for infrastructure and pollution. However, Stockton’s Public Works Department “provides an active and extensive Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that relies almost exclusively on non-General Fund sources to fund projects. This Program maintains, improves, and expands the City’s infrastructure and public safety,” the city’s website says.

Some of the city’s current projects include:

-2016 Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation
-Alexandria Place Sewer Trunk Line Rehabilitation
-Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Phase 1B
-Calaveras River Bicycle and Pedestrian Path
-Filbert Street and Miner Avenue Traffic Signal Installation
-Fremont Square Sidewalk Reconstruction
-Leaking Underground Fuel Tank Program 2015
-Newcastle Road and South Airport Way Water Transmission Main
-Pershing Avenue Adaptive Traffic Control System (ATCS)
-Thornton Road Widening Project
-West Lane Pedestrian Access Improvements

Here are some other rankings for the city:

– Economy: #91
– Education: #110
– Financial stability: #141
– Health: #92
– Safety: #141
-Overall quality of city services score: 36.51

5. Flint, MI

Source: Wikimedia Commons By Flintmichigan [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

If you’ve been paying attention for the past few years, then you are well aware of Flint’s water problem. The governor at the time the crisis began was criticized for his policies and blamed for starting the crisis, which has been referred to as “the largest examples of environmental racism in this country’s history.” On top of all that, the city has the highest percentages of the nation’s population in poverty. Plus, its education is ranked at #141, its safety is ranked at #110, and its economy is ranked at #150.

4. Shreveport, LA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to an article published by Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc., a recent survey showed that Shreveport, LA, is the worst place to start a career. The survey looked at key factors such as the availability of entry-level jobs, monthly salary, workforce diversity, and affordable housing. When asked about the ranking, Shreveport’s mayor told Nexstar “We recognize that there is room to grow. Our administration is focused on growing the economy so that each successive generation has more opportunities than the last.”

Here’s a breakdown of how Shreveport ranks in other areas:

-Financial stability: #137
-Education: #112
-Health: #137
-Safety: #138
-Economy: #146
-Infrastructure and pollution: #112
-Overall quality of city services score: 34.59

3. Jackson, MS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

While the data from WalletHub doesn’t go into full detail about Jackson, MS, it does tell us that the city is the third worst-run city in the nation. Here’s a breakdown of the city’s rankings in various categories:

-Financial stability: #146
-Education: #127
-Health: #123
-Safety: #135
-Economy: #123
-Infrastructure and pollution: #133
– Overall quality of city services score: 32.20

Unfortunately, Jackson isn’t the only problem area in Mississippi. According to WLBT, an NBC-affiliated television station in Jackson, a USA Today study ranked five Mississippi counties as worst in the country. Those counties are in the Mississippi Delta region, an area plagued by poverty. Yazoo County’s poverty rate was ranked at 36.5 percent, which is more than double the national average.

2. St. Louis, MO

St Louis
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Daniel Schwen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

St. Louis has a high crime rate. As a result, it ranks as one of the lowest cities in terms of safety. According to a new study by researchers from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, violent crime has become more deadly in the city over the past decade, and the number of homicides per robbery or assault has risen by more than 50 percent over the past eight years, from 23 homicides per 1,000 incidents to 36 per 1,000. So, just what can be attributed to this uptick in violent crime? Researchers say it’s the prevalence of gun use. The shooters are either firing more bullets or using bullets of a higher caliber, criminology professor Janet Lauritsen said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It used to be long ago, 30 years ago, no one carried a gun unless they were a shop owner or they had a reason,” Mayor Lyda Krewson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Now in the state of Missouri, you don’t have to even have a permit to carry a gun. That relaxation of gun laws has caused policing to be much harder.”

1. Detroit, MI

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Not only does Detroit have one of the highest violent crime rates in the country, but it also has the highest unemployment rate and one of the highest infant mortality rates. When it comes to education, Detroit ranks at #139. Its economy is ranked at #147, and its financial stability rank is #148. Detroit’s score for overall quality of city services is 28.77.

On the plus side, Detroit police announced earlier this year that homicides in 2018 had dropped to 261 — the lowest number in 50 years — and violent crime dropped 2 percent in 2018. Unfortunately, many residents say they still feel unsafe. “It seems the same to me — still dangerous,” 50-year-old Detroit resident Tina Wright told The Detroit News. “I stay in the house, so I’m not trying to see any crime. I hear it, though, especially behind me; those people are shooting all the time. If someone’s saying the city’s safer, it don’t look that way to me.”


Is your city on this list? Do you agree or disagree with what’s being said about it? Sound off in the comments below.