Media giant Gannett has compiled a list of what it says are the 50 worst cities to live in, and some of the top locations are towns where it operates newspapers, including two in Tennessee.
USA TODAY compiled the list using data from 24/7 Wall Street, a website that publishes financial news and opinion. 24/7 Wall Street created an index of eight categories: crime, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure and leisure, to identify the 50 cities.
Memphis comes in as the 4th worst city in which to live, just ahead of Cleveland, Ohio, at 5th worst. The 36th worst is Knoxville. Gannett owns The Knoxville News-Sentinel and The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. Nashville, home of The Tennessean, did not make the list.
USA TODAY admits that quality of life is a subjective measure.
“Quality of life is subjective, and difficult to measure,” Gannett’s story says. “Still, there is a wide range of quantifiable factors that can impact quality of life in a given area. Affordability, safety, job market strength, quality of education, infrastructure, average commute times, air quality, and the presence of cultural attractions are just a few examples of factors that can influence overall quality of life.
“Cities were penalized for having poverty rates above the national rate of 14.0%. Our goal was to identify cities that were livable for everyone, not just the rich. Still, if incomes are too low, a city may not be desirable. To that end, we adjusted median household income the for cost of living in the city. Cities were penalized if cost-adjusted incomes were less than $44,000 or more than $112,000 a year, roughly 80% to 200% of a typical household’s income nationwide.”
Some 26.9 percent of Memphis residents live in poverty, the largest share of any city in the state and above the 14.0 percent national poverty rate. There were 1,830 violent crimes in the city for every 100,000 residents in 2016, a higher violent crime rate than in all but three other U.S. cities and nearly five times the comparable U.S. violent crime rate.
And, Knoxville was not spared. About one-quarter of residents live in poverty, the second highest of any major city in Tennessee. Knoxville has violent and property crimes at twice the national rate.
Gannett ranks Knoxville as barely better than rust belt cities Toledo, Ohio (35th worst), and Buffalo, New York (34th worst).
The worst city in which to live, according to Gannett, is Detroit, where the company owns the Detroit Free Press.