Sustainability Infrastructure

These are the least safe cities in the US

WalletHub ranked St. Louis, Missouri as the nation’s least safe city, based on a variety of factors including natural disaster risks and financial safety metrics.

Story at a glance

  • While St. Louis was ranked as the country’s least safe city, data showed Columbia, Md., was the safest. 

  • Researchers assessed 42 different metrics to create composite safety scores for each city.

  •  More than 180 cities across the country were included in the analysis. 

A new WalletHub analysis ranks St. Louis as the least safe city in America, based on a host of indicators ranging from vaccination status to road quality to assaults per capita. 

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Detroit; and Baton Rouge, La., rounded out the top five slots, respectively.

Although the rate of violent crime in America has dramatically decreased since 1990, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with an uptick. In 2020, the U.S. murder rate rose by nearly 30 percent, while rates of assault increased by more than 10 percent. 

But U.S. residents’ safety can also be threatened by natural disasters, traffic accidents, virus outbreaks and other factors that may not involve physical harm, like visiting unsecured websites.

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To measure this wide range of risks, researchers at WalletHub analyzed 42 different safety indicators classified into one of three metrics: home and community safety, natural disaster risk and financial safety. A total of 182 cities were included in the study. 

Home and community safety, which included factors like the number of mass shootings and hate crimes per capita, held the most weight in each city’s composite score. It was followed by natural-disaster risk (i.e. floods, earthquakes, tornadoes) and financial safety, which took unemployment and foreclosure rates into account. 

Memphis, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; Oakland, Calif.; Jackson, Miss.; and Chattanooga, Tenn., made up the latter half of the top 10 least safe cities. 

In comparison, Columbia, Md., was ranked as the safest city in the country, followed by Nashua, N.H.; Laredo, Texas; Portland, Maine; and Warwick, R.I.

Natural disaster risk was not available for nine cities

New York City, which has 8.8 million residents and is the most populated in the country, ranked 127th overall for safety.

Cities with the highest number of traffic fatalities per capita had, on average, 36 times more deaths than the city with the lowest traffic fatalities (Columbia). Baton Rouge; St. Louis; Detroit; Jackson; and Memphis were all tied for the highest number of traffic fatalities. 

Irvine, Calif., had the least assaults per capita compared with five cities tied for the most number of assaults: Birmingham, Ala.; St. Louis; Little Rock, Ark.; Detroit; and Memphis. 

Dover, Del., had the lowest natural disaster risk, while Oklahoma City was at the highest risk.

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