Between crime, COVID-19 and the local economy, it’s hard to run a city these days. One recent study attempts to quantify who’s doing it well – and who is not.
WalletHub examined the 150 largest cities in the U.S., and evaluated each city’s credit rating, debt, education scores, health scores, crime rates, economy and infrastructure. (See how they weighted each of the 38 criteria in their methodology here.)
Each city’s scores in those categories were balanced with its budget per capita. If you have a high budget, and lower quality of life scores, you end up at the bottom of the list.
The results landed some of the country’s largest cities, like New York and Chicago, at the bottom of the list.
The high amount of city debt per capita dragged Washington, D.C. and San Francisco into the bottom two spots. New York scored high for safety, but low for financial stability, earning it the third spot in the list of worst-run cities.
Poor education scores also dragged down Denver, which scored better in the economy-rated categories, like unemployment and debt, but was one of the worst cities for high school graduation rates.
Locally, the quality of city services, financial stability, education and budget per capita hurt Kansas City, Kansas.
Kansas City, Missouri, was also toward the bottom of the list, but not quite as low. KCMO was 106th of the 150 cities on the list, when ranked from best to worst, while KCK came in at 136th, when looking at the list this way.
Of the 150 largest cities WalletHub examined, these 20 ranked as the worst-run:
- Washington, D.C.
- San Francisco
- New York
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Flint, Michigan
- Oakland, California
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Gulfport, Mississippi
- Tacoma, Washington
- Rochester, New York
- Yonkers, New York
- Kansas City, Kansas
- Memphis, Tennessee
- St. Louis
- New Haven, Connecticut
You may not recognize as many of the city names on WalletHub’s list of best-run cities. Nampa, Idaho, takes the top spot, followed by Boise, Idaho; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Nashua, New Hampshire; and Lexington, Kentucky.
All of them rank among the 150 most populous in the country, but are notably smaller cities than D.C., San Francisco and New York, suggesting it may be much easier for mid-sized cities to qualify as “well-run.”