All of the cities are in California.
It is hard to quantify what makes a city great or bad. Simply having a higher income is not enough to separate an area from another city if the cost of living is outrageous. There have been attempts to use cost of living adjustments but the attempt to rank cities has been paltry. Most of the rankings looked at larger areas but failed to look at smaller cities where a large portion of our population lives. A recent report actually made the effort to rank small cities based on four key metrics. The first item looks at economics. The next metric looks at education and health. The third metric looks at quality of life which includes things like commute time. Finally, affordability is looked at since housing prices have outpaced income gains in many areas of the U.S. It should comes as no surprise that 20 of the lowest performing cities that popped up on the list are in California.
The 20 cities that have it toughest are all in California
It may (or not) come as a surprise to you that all of the 20 cities on the bottom of the list of 1,268 small cities are all in California. California is largely looking more like a state where you have a small coastal elite and a large population that is struggling to get by. The metrics picked up on the incredibly high housing costs even in areas that simply don’t warrant it. You also find that many people are taking on brutal commutes just to live in the area.
The list was compiled by Wallet Hub and the way the metrics are gathered is interesting:
Source: Wallet Hub
Also, these are all cities between 25,000 and 100,000 people so we aren’t looking at tiny towns and mega cities which are usually covered in other rankings. Nothing is easily quantifiable but they did a good job trying to assign a weighting to various key items of life. For example, housing costs should be a big part because this is the biggest expense for Americans. Employment and jobs absolutely matter. Many of these area are flooded with low wage jobs or high unemployment. Next, having good schools and healthcare is important for taking care of your residents. And finally, quality of life which includes things like commuting are factored into the weighting.
Here is a picture of the 20 cities on the bottom of the list:
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