Taking a close look at data from the U.S. Census Bureau, these are the top cities that Americans have been leaving in recent years. Contributing factors include job cuts, crime, and opportunity elsewhere. Cities in Illinois and Louisiana are getting hit particularly hard as they fail to make the adjustments needed to keep their residents. While many of the American cities on this list have a struggling economy and other clearly identifiable faults, a few of the cities experiencing population declines are highly desirable areas that are simply not affordable.
Although it’s one of the bigger cities along the Gulf Coast, the population of Mobile, Alabama doesn’t tend to fluctuate. The city’s mayor, Sandy Stimpson, remarked that the population hasn’t grown “in over 50 years.” Even worse, in recent years it’s decreased.
Between 2016 and 2017, Mobile’s population declined 0.7% as 1,325 of the city’s residents left. The unemployment rate is stuck at 4.1%, higher than the national average, while sales taxes burden residents at 10%.
The mayor of Toledo, Ohio believes that his city isn’t getting enough support from the state’s governor, Mike DeWine. The Ohio governor slashed Toldeo’s budget by $6.5 million and raised gas taxes, causing plenty of headaches for local government.
In 2016, 2,115 residents left the city, decreasing the population by 0.8%. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate sits much higher than the national average at 5.4% while recent job growth is in the red.
Unless you have deep pockets, Waltham, Massachusetts is a difficult place to afford to live. The median home value within the city is nearly 2.5 times more than the national average in the U.S.
The desirable zip code is attractive to those who can afford it but renters in the area continue to suffer with a lack of affordable housing. Waltham lost 1% of its population within a year as 610 residents left.
Mount Prospect, Illinois
A suburb of Chicago, Mount Prospect, Illinois is seeing more people leaving than coming. This follows the trends of other Chicago suburbs, including Rosemont and Elk Grove Village. In one year’s time, 438 residents left the community, bringing the population down by 0.8%.
Residents have been leaving Chicago suburbs for four straight years now, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The region as a whole saw a 0.23% decrease during this time.
A suburb of Salt Lake City, more people are leaving Taylorsville, Utah than moving to it. The population decreased 0.8% in 2016, even as the population of Salt Lake City grew.
The median income for a household in Taylorsville is $54,881 with the median income for a family sitting just above at $62,023. This means that nearly 10% of the city’s residents are below the poverty line, and many of them are under the age of 18.
Small business owners are suffering in Gary, Indiana. The city’s residents have vocalized their frustrations with the local government making it difficult for them to run a business in Gary.
Skilled workers and small business owners are leaving Gary to work somewhere else with more manageable policies. In 2016, 587 people left Gary, decreasing its population by 0.8%. The unemployment rate in Gary is uncomfortably high at 8.0% with only 1.2% recent job growth.
West Allis, Wisconsin
A suburb of Milwaukee, West Allis has a bad reputation for its drivers and roadways. The city has made the papers for car thefts, traffic fatalities, and driving deaths related to alcohol. Other than that, the city is in pretty good shape.
Future job growth is decent and taxes are around average. However, West Allis is still having trouble keeping its residents, as 458 people left the city in 2016, decreasing the population by 0.8%.
One of several Illinois cities to see its population decrease is Evanston. In 2016, 582 people left the area despite the city’s strong reports for public schooling and entertainment.
The economy could be a contributing factor as to why its residents are leaving, as well as the sales tax, which is 10% compared to the nation’s average 6.2%. Residents say they feel like they’re losing too much of their paycheck living in Evanston.
Newport Beach, California
The average cost of a home in Newport Beach, California is $1 million, making it one of the most expensive cities to live in across the entire country. Located on the coast in costly Orange County, residents of Newport Beach need to have deep pockets to be able to afford to stay in this city.
In 2016 Newport Beach’s population declined by 0.8% as 682 residents moved out of the southern California city. People can only keep up with the Joneses for so long.
In the course of one year, 5,310 people left the city of Baltimore. It was 2018, and it’s the first time that the city has seen a population loss that big since 2001. So what happened?
Studies point to lack of housing, lack of jobs, and a steady crime rate, which are likely having an effect on families looking to raise their kids. The city government is well aware of the statistics and is hoping that once they can get a handle on the crime, new residents will move to Baltimore.
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
In just one year, 456 people left Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The city once offered plenty of jobs to residents in the tobacco and textile industries. But then the Great Recession struck and Rocky Mount has been struggling to recover ever since.
Currently, it’s one of the most difficult places to make a living in the state of North Carolina. The unemployment rate was at an uncomfortable 4.6%, the highest of North Carolina metro areas.
Hammond, Indiana is hoping for a bright future but has yet to turn the corner. 612 of the city’s residents left Hammond in 2016. The city is in need of a boost to its local economy to attract new businesses and meet its goal of becoming an Indiana town with opportunities for residents.
Hammond has a higher unemployment rate than the national average and has a lower percentage of recent and future job growth.
Oak Lawn, Illinois
Residents of Oak Lawn, Illinois may be leaving the city due to high taxes. A village of the Chicago area, Oak Lawn continues to see their population decrease over the years as taxes increase and the village debt increases.
Business owners are choosing to take their companies elsewhere, as the high taxes also make it more difficult to find employees who can afford to live there. In 2016, 437 residents left Oak Lawn.
High taxes and cold weather are having residents of Stokie, Illinois thinking about finding a new city to call home. Although the city has lots to offer its residents in the way of education and nightlife, it’s not enough to keep people from looking to states with lower taxes and a better climate.
Stokie also has limited job opportunities, which has residents who are looking to grow their career wanting to leave, which is an ongoing trend in the region.
Pittsburgh has one of the highest numbers when it comes to residents leaving. About 2,610 people left the city in 2016, decreasing the population by 0.9%. It even brought Pittsburgh down from the 26th most populous city in the U.S. to the 27th.
The largest metropolitan area in the Appalachian region, the city has struggled to attract and keep residents for decades now, going back to the 1970s. The only glimmer of hope for the population of Pittsburgh is that international people have begun migrating to the city.
The job market is struggling in Decatur, Illinois, causing residents to leave for better opportunities. In the course of one year, 631 residents left, as manufacturing jobs continue to disappear– 28% from 2001 to 2006.
Local government officials know that they need to increase jobs in order to keep their residents and make opportunities for those who want to return to the city. However, Decatur hasn’t figured out how to do that yet.
Baton Rouge, Lousiana
Another city with a crime problem is Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The murder rate in the city is through the roof, and residents are well aware. In one year, 1,978 people moved out of the city, dropping its population by 0.9%.
Baton Rouge is also struggling to keep its city healthy, as one-third of the population is considered obese. The city has a lot of work to do in order to attract new residents.
The state of Illinois is having a difficult time maintaining its population and there’s no exception for its capital city of Springfield. The capital city and Sangamon County, where it’s located, has seen a decrease in residents for several years leading up to 2019.
Between 2016 and 2017, 866 people left the city, decreasing the population by 0.7%. Future job growth in Springfield is 22.1%, lower than the national average of 33.5%.
Erie, Pennsylvania is a city that’s struggling to produce jobs to keep its residents. The GE Transportation plant once provided a healthy amount of jobs for the city, but has continued to cut jobs in recent years.
Residents who are looking for more job growth aren’t finding it in Erie, and are looking at better opportunities. The city knows it has to do something in order to change this trend, as 0.9% of its population left within a year.
Anchorage, Alaska isn’t for everyone, and even those people who want to live there can’t always afford it. The city lost 1% of its population within a year as 3,020 residents moved elsewhere.
This trend isn’t new to Anchorage, as the city has seen its population decline for decades, back to the 1980s. One of the reasons residents may be leaving is the high crime rate, which made it one of the 25 most dangerous cities in the U.S.
Albany, Georgia has a long list of needed improvements. The city has a high poverty rate that has its population struggling to improve their quality of life. Albany even made the list of 50 worst cities by 24/7 Wall St. coming in at No.7.
The trend shows that if residents are able to, they’re leaving. Within a year, 1% of Albany’s population left, as 774 residents moved on for better opportunities.
Another city in the Chicago area to see its population drop is Berwyn, Illinois. Although it’s within commuting distance to the city, residents continue to leave. 517 people left in one year and it doesn’t look like that trend is turning around.
Berwyn hopes to lure younger, first-time homebuyers to the area, as the housing market is a mix of urban and suburban. We’ll have to wait and see if their campaigns to attract new residents are successful.
The mid-size city of Columbus, Georgia isn’t growing as quickly as similar U.S. cities, however, city officials are optimistic that they’ll be able to make the improvements needed to attract new residents.
Things aren’t quite where they need to be, but the city’s mayor, Teresa Tomlinson, said that the unemployment rate is decreasing, as well as the poverty rate. They’re also getting a handle on the budget, which they hope will entice new residents.
The population decline and need for improvements in Jackson, Mississippi have been known for some time. Luckily, in 2019 the city was granted $1 million to help improve its public transportation.
However, the crime rate is through the roof, with a homicide rate that’s five times higher than the national average. This statistic will continue to deter new residents and cause current residents to look elsewhere. In one year, 1.2% of the population decreased as 2,040 residents left Jackson, Mississippi.
Once upon a time, the oil industry was thriving in Shreveport, Louisiana, the third most populous city within the state. However, once jobs began getting cut, residents of Shreveport looked to move elsewhere.
Within a year, 2,358 residents left the city, decreasing the population by 1.2%. Unless more jobs are created, it’s likely that this trend will continue, as residents may look to other states to move with little opportunity in the surrounding area.
The statistics on residents leaving the city of Peoria, Illinois are concerning. The city has one of the highest population declines in the country, at 1.3%. It’s clear that the 5.9% unemployment rate is taking a heavy toll on residents.
With jobs available elsewhere, workers are giving up on Peoria and moving to areas where the local economy is in better condition. Things aren’t looking great for the population of Illinois.
Enid, Oklahoma is another city on this list that saw its population decline after the oil industry took a hit. Beginning in late 2014, jobs were cut as the state of Oklahoma lost a dire $1.5 billion in revenue.
The city has done a surprisingly good job at keeping their unemployment rate a low 3.1 percent as well as a manageable crime rate. Even so, residents continue to leave, as 663 left in one year, dropping the population by 1.3 percent.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri is the second-fastest shrinking city in the U.S., which isn’t a ranking to boast about. The city’s high crime rate has made it a tough place to live, especially for families.
In one year, 4,518 residents left St. Louis, but city officials seem to be in denial about the trend. While believing that increased construction will lift the city up, residents are clearly wanting a safer place to live.
Yet another Chicago suburb seeing a population drop is Cicero, Illinois. The population decreased by 0.9% in one year, as 771 residents left the suburb for better weather and job opportunities elsewhere.
Once again, the high tax rates– particularly the property tax rate– in Cicero may be turning off residents, as they find other options to live where they can keep more of their paycheck. If recent surveys prove true, the state will be losing more of its residents soon.
Casper, Wyoming is the city that’s seeing the highest percentage of its residents leave for greener pastures. Casper saw a 1.9% decrease in its population within a year as 1,092 residents left the city.
The lack of job opportunities is a major issue that the City of Casper will need to fix if they want to bring more people back. It’s another city that was hit hard with the oil crisis and hasn’t found a way to recover.