Another Top-10 List — Most Challenging U.S. Cities to Raise Children

The future of the country will be held in the hands of today’s children.   The better the potential outcome they have, the more attractive the outlook for the nation.

Raising children is a challenge which can be made more difficult depending on the environment outside of the home in the local community.   Many facets are external to the home.  Education opportunities can help grow our children while negatives such as crime can inhibit potential.  Also important is physical development: growing a mind is just part of the big picture.

Raising a child is expensive.  The average cost to raise a child in 2018 was $233,610 for a middle class family according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture – and that does NOT include college.

The most challenging cities for raising children were ranked by 24/7 Wall Street.  Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) were analyzed and compared using the following metrics and respective sources:

  • Percent of preschool enrollment rate among 3 to 4 year olds – 2017 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau
  • Violent and Property crime rates – FBI 2017 Uniform Crime Report
  • Percentage of Population with access to places for physical activity – 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & University of Wisconsin
  • High school graduation rate — 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & University of Wisconsin

The following table shows the 10 U.S. cities deemed most challenging in which to raise children.  The nationwide high school graduation rate is 84.6 percent with two of the 10 most challenging cities not even achieving a 70 percent level.  The authors titled their study as “Parenting is hard enough: Here are the worst American cities to raise children.”

Job growth is a key indicator of the economic activity level of a city, funding sources for education and also opportunities for residents.  The following table shows the latest 12-month job growth rates for each of 10 MSAs.  One of the cities, Hanford-Corcoran, California posted an impressive 2.22 percent job growth rate (compared to 1.52 percent nationwide for the same period).  Hinesville, Georgia was close at 1.46 percent, but all the other MSAs failed to gain even 1.0 percent.

To read the entire article in USA Today and view the list of the 25 most challenging cities at

Not included in the index were income and other financial well-being statistics.  In the 25 ranked cities in the study, 21 had a poverty rate greater than the 13.4 percent national level.  Low household incomes impact school quality as almost one-half of all school funding is sourced from the local level.

High spending, however, is not a requirement for student success.   Alaska ranked 6th most in spending at $17.510 per pupil at the elementary and secondary levels in the 2016 fiscal year per the Census Bureau, yet both MSAs in the state were included in the 10 most challenging cities to raise children.


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