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People Are Leaving These Major U.S. Cities In Droves, And We Can Relate To The Reasons Why

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For years, big cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco have been associated with the American dream. However, residents have also been regularly leaving these big metro cities in swarms for a life of lower prices, less crime and more job opportunities. Here are 25 of the major cities that have seen the largest population migrations during the last decade.

25. Fairbanks, Alaska – 7,011 Migrations

Fairbanks, Alaska looks perfectly quaint on the surface. The city has an average unemployment rate, the median house value is $226,900 and it provides all the scenic views one can dream of. However, according to migration figures analyzed by financial news outlet 24/7 Wall St. from the US Census Bureau’s Population Estimate Program, some 7,011 residents have flocked away in the last decade and the majority of those moves were in the past two years.

US Cities

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Eddie Hunsinger, the Labor Department demographer told that it has to do with more job opportunities blooming in mainland America. “The high costs for heating fuel, the high costs for medical insurance and everything that is associated with being in Alaska, drove us to look elsewhere,” former Alaska resident Ken Woods told the website in an interview. 

24. Bakersfield, California – 7,314 Migrations

Bakersfield isn’t necessarily the first city that comes to mind when it comes to the Golden State. The little city between San Francisco and Los Angeles is currently losing a bulk of residents to opportunities presented elsewhere. The 24/7 Wall Street review has revealed that 7,314 residents up and flown the coop since 2010.  

US Cities

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The city has faced a number of serious issues that included 70,771 of its residents living under the poverty line as of 2017 and a crime rate of 46.05. One of Bakersfield’s biggest problems has to do with the pollution. According to The Guardian, the city is one of the most polluted in the country. It is often smothered in a cloud of smog stemming from agriculture, industry, rail freight and road emissions.

23. Fresno, California – 7,571 Migrations

While most will associate California with good weather and movies stars, Fresno in general presents a less glamorous side of the Golden State. The city smacked between San Francisco and Los Angeles is hot, dusty and suffering from severe substance issues that have put it in the national spotlight on more than one occasion.

Fresno City

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With  a population of more than half a million, Fresno also has a relatively high crime rate. According to the website NeighborhoodScout, there is a one in 22 chance of becoming the victim of a crime in Fresno. According to the figures reviewed by 24/7 Wall St. from the census, between 2010 and 2017,  7,571 Fresno natives packed up and left the city behind.

22. Erie, Pennsylvania – 8,511 Migrations

During the industrial revolution, Erie, Pennsylvania was a powerhouse in the Great Lakes region. It was once the home of Griswold Manufacturing, which was one of the leaders in cast-iron cookware from 1865 to 1957. Today, the fourth biggest city in Pennsylvania finds itself with a sluggish economy and a population that is slowly dwindling.

US City

Mosesgun / Instagram has a graph that shows that mass amounts of people that have been flooding out of the city since 2010. Between 2010 and 2017, 8,511 people reportedly left Erie for better opportunities elsewhere in the country. The city currently has an impressive median home value of $126,000, though still saw a 2.1% decrease in population during the past decade.

21. Mobile, Alabama – 8,517 Migrations

Mobile, Alabama has actually seen a 0.2% overall increase in population from 2010 to 2017 in thanks to 40,422 births. What used to be the third biggest city in Alabama just behind Birmingham and Montgomery, is now lagging behind at number four behind a growing Huntsville. According to census information, the city has seen 8,517 of its residents migrate out of the city in just seven years.

Mobile City

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One of the issues behind its dwindling population could be the city’s poverty rate of 22.4%, which is above the national average. Despite a bulk of the population living in poverty, the unemployment rate is surprising low. This could perhaps be one reason lending to the recent migrations.

20. Washington, DC – 8,543 Migrations

Washington, DC has long been known as a hotspot for folks with ambitious career paths. Still, at 5.5%, the unemployment rate in the nation’s capital is above the national average. Not only that, but downtown housing costs at $564,400, according to,  is more than double the country’s $226,800 national average.

US Cities Washington DC

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While folks on the wealthier side of life can continue living the DC dream with ease, residents in the city’s suburbs often apparently opt for change. According to 24/7 Wall St.’s review of the census, 8,543 residents have picked up their things in recent past years and shuffled to more affordable cities. Real estate brokerage firm Redfin shows that Philadelphia, PA has received most of them, as the city is close by, has similar job market offering and a more affordable lifestyle.

19. Atlantic City, New Jersey – 8,550 Migrations

Atlantic City has slightly shrunk in population in recent years by 1.7%. According to the roundup of census data, the city known as “The World’s Playground” saw 8,550 residents move from its shores from 2010 to 2017. Many things come into factor here, and part of that are tourism rates.

US Cities

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A chart posted on shows that the city rose to fame throughout the early half of the 20th century, peaked in the 1930s through 1960s and has been dwindling ever since. What used to be the Las Vegas of the East Coast has increasingly becoming a well-weathered boardwalk and some casinos. A lot of the migration might also have to do with the stae of New Jersey reportedly housing the highest property tax in the nation.

18. Fayetteville, North Carolina – 8,741 Migrations

Fayetteville, North Carolina looks pretty amazing on paper. The city of more than 200,000 is rich in history,  has access to a number a scenic trails, golf courses, rivers and beaches. It’s also just one hour away from acclaimed military base, Fort Bragg. With that said, it may puzzle some that Fayetteville has reportedly seen 8,741 residents move away in the last decade.

US Cities

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Still according to the censure data reviewed by 24/7 Wall St., Fayetteville saw a 5.6% overall growth of its population during the same time. According to livability score website Areavibes, the city has a 6% unemployment rate and 18% poverty rate, which both exceed the national average.

17. Farmington, New Mexico – 9,633 Migrations

 With a net-negative job growth rate, New Mexico as a state is becoming a place of immense hardships. In the center of that struggle is the city of Farmington. The census data reported by 24/7 Wall St. shows that 9,633 residents there have kissed their longtime homes goodbye for opportunities in different cities. 

US Cities

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According to the New Mexico Political Report website, Farmington currently has an unemployment rate of 7.8%. The website further states that a lot of this has to do with oil and natural gas prices dropping. Careers in the gas and oil field were truly what caused the city and state to thrive. The outlet even goes on to point out that the city has a somewhat high crime rate.

16. Charleston, West Virginia – 9,772 Migrations

Charleston, West Virginia is another city that has seen a continuous population decline since the recession. According to figures from the census,  9,772 residents have fled the state’s capital city since 2010. The data also indicate that within that time frame, the city has seen 20,856 deaths and only 18,078 births. To have a death rate overlap a birth rate is quite rare on a statewide level.

US Cities

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To make matters worse for the city, WVNews has released statistics showing that in 2017, 91,734 children were living below the poverty line. That gave the city the fourth highest child poverty rate in the country. According to FBI crime reports for 2017 cited by website, the crime rate in Charleston was 205% higher than the national average.

15. Wichita, Kansas – 10,335 Migrations

Population migration from Wichita, Kansas counted for a significant portion of the city’s overall population decrease, as census information indicates that 10,335 people packed up their bags and fled from 2010 to 2017. On an even grander scale, moving and relocation company United Van Lines did an inbound and outbound study that concluded that Kansas is fifth-most-moved-from state in the entire country.

US Cities

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When one considers Wichita’s crime rate, it may be no surprise why people are packing up and leaving. According to AP News, Wichita has a crime rate that is twice the national average. They further reported that the city’s police force is extremely underfunded and understaffed.

14. Syracuse, New York – 17,717 Migrations

On paper, Syracuse, New York seems like the perfect place to go and start a family. According to Business Insider, homes sell there on average for about $111,000. That’s relatively cheap for being in the same state as New York City. Furthermore, has shown that the city’s unemployment rate is also at an almost two-decade low of 3.7%.

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However, according to, many of the city’s long time residents are looking for properties outside of the city. That could be due to the gobstopping amount of snowfall they see each year. While Buffalo might be better known for it mountainous snow, Syracuse gets covered in about 10 feet of snow every year. Whether its a factor or not, census projections have shown that 17,717 people have left the city in recent years.

13. Baton Rouge, Louisiana – 18,284 Migrations

The world over knows Baton Rouge as a city filled with festivals, good cajun eating and that diverse Louisiana culture. That said, many will be scratching their heads when they find out that, according to local newspaper The Advocate, 18,284 residents have left since 2010.

US Cities

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With a crime rate that runs almost head to head with Chicago’s, it isn’t hard to see why people may not all be jazzed to live there. To make matters worse, the department of numbers released a graph showing a soaring unemployment rate that has currently left some 16,680 unemployed individuals in the city. Redfin has revealed that many Baton Rouge residents have headed to Houston for opportunity.

12. Toledo, Ohio – 18,475 Migrations

If losing residents was trendy, Toledo, Ohio would be a national treasure. According to census data, the little city has lost 18,475 residents since 2010 and the numbers continue to dwindle. Still, the average homeowner should be please to know the city has a median house value of $129,200, which apparently still doesn’t keep everyone from sticking around. 

US Cities

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Real estate database Neighborhood Scout has revealed that Toledo has a quite a high crime rate at 51.3 per 1,000, which is one of the highest in the nation. An article by Brandon Croke on further revealed a city that was one dimensional and bland. It also noted that the city’s climate can jump from extremes of hot and cold in terms of weather.

11. Rockford, Illinois – 18,789 Migrations

Rockford, Illinois has definitely seen better days. The city first came to light in the 1830s and was built at the end of the Rock River. This position gave it a lot of success in terms of industrial development. They produced a ton of heavy machinery all the way until the latter half of the 20th century. That’s when Rockford’s struggle began.

US Cities

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According to local newspaper the Rockford Register Star, Rockford currently holds the highest unemployment rate in the state of Illinois. With that in mind, it is no surprise that the state’s third biggest city is steadily shrinking. According to census data, Rockford has seen 18,789 residents leave in the past decade and a population dive of 3.2%.

10. New York, New York – 21,503 Migrations

New York is a city like no other in the world. It is a place where dreams come true and also get shattered. This likely explains why the doors to the Big Apple are constantly revolving with people moving in and moving out. According to census figures reported by 24/7 Wall St., some 21,503 individuals have left Manhattan since 2010. The United States Census Bureau reported that within the span of a year, up to 300,000 people leave while 200,000 move in.

New York City

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A lot of this likely has to do with the city’s skyhigh housing prices and also the high cost of food within the city limits. Redfin has revealed that the top destination for folks who couldn’t make it in the Big Apple is Boston. While Boston isn’t exactly providing cheap and easy living, one can find more realistic housing prices there.

9. El Paso, Texas – 21,829 Migrations

Despite El Paso’s ranking as one of the safest big cities in the United States, a reported 21,829 0f its residents moved away in the last decade. There are several factors that likely come into play here. For instance, while the average home cost about $199,600, moving there means being isolated from any of the other big Texas cities, as they are all hours away.

Border City

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Also, according to DataUSA, the city’s poverty rate stands at about 20%, which is 7% more than the national average. One also has to consider that the city borders with Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez, which has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Potentially, this is enough to make someone want to move away.

8. Flint, Michigan – 22,658 Migrations

Population migrations have hit Flint, Michigan hard in the past few years and it should be no surprise why. With some 22,658 Flint residents having left their homes behind for a better life, many of the migrating residents left due to the 2014 massive public health disaster involving the city’s water supply being poisoned with lead.

Flint Water City

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Once that happened, property values began to lose a ton of their worth and a lot of major investments fell completely flat. The city is looking at billions of dollars and years of work going into repairing the damaged water pipes. One can almost say without doubt that the migration in Flint will continue to push on.

7. Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 27,959 Migrations

While Milwaukee is home to great attractions like Miller Park and the Milwaukee Art Museum, they just aren’t enough to keep people in the area. Reported census figures show that between 2010 and 2017, 27,959 residents have fled the city. Redfin revealed that most of them have headed to Chicago.

US Cities

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While Chicago is far from the safest place in the country, things can get a whole lot more dangerous in Milwaukee. Local new station Fox6Now recently covered a report by SafeWise that listed Milwaukee as the sixth most dangerous major city in the United States. According to the report, 41% of Milwaukee residents fear getting robbed on the street and 31% fear getting assaulted by a stranger. Considering that report, it’s no surprise that residents are leaving the city behind.

6. Memphis, Tennessee – 30,000 Migrations

Sitting by the Mississippi River is Memphis, Tennessee. The city is famous for holding onto a legacy surrounding Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Blues. There was a point in time when people were coming to this city in flocks with little more than a guitar and a dream. According to census statistics reported by 24/7 Wall St., these days are gone.

US Cities

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Over the past few years, Memphis has been undergoing a huge migration of its residents. According to the population surveys, in just seven years the city has seen 30,000 people pack up and leave. With a median home value of $142,400, it’s mind boggling to see people flock from one of America’s landmark cities and for no definite reason.

5. Cleveland, Ohio – 33,117 Migrations

Over the past decade, Cleveland has seen a mass exodus of residents. A reported 33,117 people have moved out of the city in the past decade. However, that should come as no surprise when taking into consideration Cleveland’s high poverty rate.

city lights

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According to, the city made national headlines 10 years ago for being the poorest big city in the nation. Sadly, things have only gotten over harder in the city over the past decade. In 2003, the poverty rate was 31.3%. By the time 2013 rolled around, the poverty rate jumped up to 36.9%. went on to report that most of the people leaving were going for work-related reasons and retirement.

4. St. Louis, Missouri – 39,894 Migrations

According to Redfin, residents from “The Gateway to the West” are leaving it all behind for a life in the north – in Chicago to be specific. The number of migrating residents reportedly reached 39,894 during the census survey period. While crime decreased 50% since the substance epidemic of the ’80s, St. Louis is still far from safe. The once-thriving city currently has the second-highest crime rate in the country and has been plagued by being one of the major stops on a substance trafficking route.

St. Louis US Cities

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On paper, St Louis looks great. It has a low unemployment rate and a reliable job market. Also, relatively speaking, it isn’t a very expensive place to live when compared to other major cities across the United States. While migrating populations are seemingly inevitable, luckily for St. Louis hundreds of thousands of births in the city have helped actually grow the population by 0.7%.

3. Detroit, Michigan – 54,640 Migrations

Detroit’s population has been dwindling for decades now. According to the World Population Report, back in the 1950s, the Motor City housed 1.8 million people. Today, those numbers have dropped down to 673,000 and continue to drop. This could be attributed to the decline of the auto industry, which did major damage to the Rust Belt city’s economy.

Detroit Motor City

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Today, the city is living in the shadow of its former self, as abandoned homes and business are no strange sight to see. The city also holds the title for having the highest crime rate in the nation. With that, it is no wonder that Detroit citizens are fleeing the city. Redfin shows that most of the city’s former residents have started anew in Chicago. Reported census surveys show that despite the fact that 54,640 folks have moved out in recent years, Detroit’s overall population has grown slightly.

2. Los Angeles, California – 93,959 Migrations

While the City of Angels once held a reputation of glitz and glamour, today it is best known for its lagging freeway traffic and its exorbitant living expenses. More than a reported 93,959 Los Angeles citizens have migrated from the city in the past decade. According to real estate brokerage Redfin, the average housing price in the city is $720,000.

US Cities

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However, the high-priced housing market isn’t the only factor behind fleeing LA residents. The LA Times recently stated that the latest headcount revealed a homeless population of 59,000. Redfin statics further show that jaded locals have left their dreams of fortune and fame behind for a more practical life in cities like San Diego and Phoenix, Arizona. Still, Los Angeles has grown by 4.1% overall during that time and still boasts a population of nearly 13 million in its metropolitan area alone.

1. Chicago, Illinois – 296,320 Migrations

While people from Indianapolis are reported to flock to Chicago, Windy City natives have respectively been packing up and leaving. According to census surveys, 296,320 people have fled the nation’s third-biggest city. Redfin has determined that most migrating population are leaving in favor of sunny Phoenix. We’re guessing that the warmer weather plays a huge part in that decision.

Chicago City

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Reportedly, complaints amid Chicago residents span issues like the city’s high cost of living (with a median home value at $229,00), the education system, amenities and property tax. One can’t forget to mention that Chicago has its fair share of crime. Still, for the nearly three million people in Chicago, it seems it’d take a lot more than that to phase them.

Honorable Mention 1. Johnstown, Pennsylvania – 7,070 Migrations

Located about an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh is the city of Johnstown. While it might be surrounded by the state’s attractive greenery, the city itself has been struggling for years. According to Business Insider, between 2010 and 2017, 7,070 people have migrated out of the city.

bad cities

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Road Snacks, a website that specializes in regional information, has ranked Johnstown as the seventh worse place to live in the state. They further pointed to an unemployment rate of 16.1%, which is the fourth highest in Pennsylvania. This explains why 37.9% of the city’s residents are living under the poverty line.

Honorable Mention 2. Hinesville, Georgia – 7,171 Migrations

As a city, it seems that Hinesville just doesn’t have a lot going for it. Business Insider has listed it as the most boring city in the state of Georgia. They further displayed that the city with a population of 80,328 only homes four bars, 25 full service restaurants, 13 hotels and zero museums.

bad cities

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Business Insider also stated that between 2010 and 2017, 7,171 have fled the city with hopes for a better future. We’re guessing to cities that either more fun or have more opportunities. According to Road Snacks, Hinesville has an unemployment rate of 12.4% and poverty rate of 15.8%.

Honorable Mention 3. El Centro, California – 7,219 Migrations

Down south and far from the coast is the California city of El Centro. While it is a relatively small city, it has quite a giant reputation. According to NPR, the sleepy city has an unemployment rate of 16.2%. That makes it the highest in the nation. If someone has a job there, they better hold onto it tight because losing it can mean years of job searching.

bad cities

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Furthermore, CNBC has listed it as the number one worst city in the country. Apparently times have been so tough for El Centro that the cemetery went into foreclosure in 2009. With all that said, it’s no shock that Business Insider reported a whooping 7,219 residents have fled the city.

Honorable Mention 4. Norwich-New London, Connecticut – 7,365 Migrations

While Connecticut is often associated with prestige, Business Insider is quick to show a darker side to the beloved state. According to them, the city of Norwich-New London has seen a resident migration 7,365 throughout the last decade. While the city looks quaint and friendly in photos, it’s actually quite rough.

bad cities

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Road Snacks has revealed that the city is ranking at number five in terms of criminal activity amid the state’s cities. They are quick to show that one in 36,6 people get robbed every year. This can largely be attributed to the cities unemployment rate which is at 12.2%.

Honorable Mention 5. Macon, Georgia – 7,877 Migration

According to GPB Media, Macon Georgia began its downward spiral back in the early 1980s. Back in the 1970s, the city had a population of 122,423. Today a quarter of that population has packed up and moved. According to Business Insider, between 2010 and 2017 Macon has lost 7,877 residents.

bad cities

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GPB Media attributed the city’s downfall to Suburbanization and the construction of a better highway system that made commuting to the city more smoother. The population decline has led to neighborhoods full of abandoned and burned down houses. The city’s urban core was especially hit hard by the population decline.

Honorable Mention 6. Anchorage, Alaska – 8,464 Migration

When considering a move to Alaska, Anchorage probably sounds like the place to be. It’s the biggest city in the state and naturally has the highest population of all the state’s cities. However, Anchorage is following a trend that is going on throughout the state and has seen a major decrease in its population.

Lake baby

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According to the popular website Business Insider, Anchorage has seen 8,464 flee the city between 2010 and 2017. The reason for this is that the economy is finally blooming throughout the American mainland and many citizens of Anchorage would prefer to live outside of the north.

Honorable Mention 7. Vineland-Bridgeton, New Jersey – 8,476 Migration

Vineland-Bridgeton, New Jersey has seen a major drop in their population in the past few years. According to Business Insider, 8,476 residents have chosen to migrate out of the city between 2010 and 2017. A lot of the migration statistics coincide with the city’s climbing crime rate, which can be a big factor in people wanting to move.

Bad cities

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Road Snacks has ranked Bridgeton as the fifth most dangerous city in all of New Jersey. They are averaging out 832 violent crimes a year and 2,952 property crimes a year. At the moment, going visiting Bridgeton can put you at serious risks, as one in 26.4 individuals become a victim of some sort of crime.

Honorable Mention 8. Yakima, Washington – 9,916 Migrations

The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” fits perfectly with Yakima, Washington. While its lush green groves and mountain background are scenic from a distance, the city can actually be quite dangerous. According to Road Snacks, Yakima ranks in at number three amid the state’s smaller cities for aggravated assaults. This means that you can leave the local Walmart with more than just a bargain.

bad cities

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Business Insider has revealed that 8,916 residents have left the small city since 2010 with the hopes of finding a better life. Given that DataUSA has revealed that 20.4% of the city’s citizens live below the poverty line, it isn’t hard to see why people are fleeing.

Honorable Mention 9. Binghamton, New York – 9,470 Migrations

When it comes to cities in New York, Binghamton is one of the least favorable. According to Business Insider, 9,470 residents have migrated out of the city since 2010. Most of this could also be attributed to the crime rate, the poverty rate and the soaring unemployment rate.

girl standing

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Road Snacks has revealed that Binghamton is the second poorest city in New York. The poverty rate is resting high at 33.3%, which is the six highest in the state. The site also stated that while the violent crime rate in the city are quite low, property crimes are quite common. In 2018, there were 1,893 reported property crimes.

Honorable Mention 10. Douglas, Arizona – 9,495 Migrations

With places like the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, Arizona homes some of the most scenic views in the country. However, there are also a number of cities that are struggling at the poverty line. Amid them is Douglas, which according to Road Snacks has a poverty rate of 31.9% and this just plays right off of an unemployment rate that is resting at 11.8%.

Goat baby

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While cities like Guadalupe trump it in terms of poverty and unemployment, Douglas is seeing more of its citizens fleeing. Business Insider has reported that since 2010, 9,495 residents have migrated out of Douglas. This could have something to do with the location of the city, which is considerably far from every single one of Arizona tourist attractions.

Sources: MoneyWise , Redfin, BusinessInsider

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