Select Page

America’s top ten declining cities

America’s top ten declining cities

Every now and then, we find a study that confirms what most folks know from common knowledge and common sense – like which are the ten American cities in serious decline – meaning they are heading or already in the socio-economic crapper.  That is merely an academic term meaning you would not like living there – unless you do not mind increasing taxes and decreasing jobs and cutbacks in municipal services.  Understandably, most of the top ten declining cities are exodus cities – even with the influx of illegal aliens.

Weeell … FinanceBuzz recently did a study of 117 cities from 2019 to 2022 – or every American city with a population of more than 200,000 … now 193,000 people … uh … 186,000 people.  Population change (decline) was one of the criteria.  Another was the business environment and even the percentage of residents with debt collection problems.

And here are your top ten losers starting with number 10.

Nunber ten is … (Drum roll please.) … Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  It made the list because of a sluggish economy, income and home values are lagging way behind other communities.  As FinanceBuzz noted that, “buying a home here might not be the smartest way to build wealth.”  I have been there once and apparently that is an average visit.

Number nine is … (Drum roll please) … Honolulu, Hawaii.  Apparently, America’s only true island state (since Rhode Island is not) is not the paradise it is promoted to be by the local chamber of commerce.  Honoluluans– or whatever they are called – cannot afford to live there.  With 15 percent of the population in debt collection, Honolulu’s economy is suffering.  That means they are not building as many overpriced homes.  Folks are leaving Hawaii like rats on a cruise ship.

Number eight is … (I think we will skip the drum rolls at least until we get to number one) … Portland, Oregon.  Portland is suffering serious population decline.  It was not clear if it was from folks moving out or being murdered.  Maybe a combination of both.  Apparently only radical left protestors are interested in occupying Portland.

Number seven is … Anchorage, Alaska.  It has all the problems of a declining community.  Sluggish economy.  Poor job growth. Too damned cold.  It is ironic that America’s tropical paradise and deep-freeze states are both declining – proving that extremes are never good.

Number six is … Chicago, Illinois.  So, what is wrong with my hometown?  Everything.  Declining population, stagnant home values, declining jobs as businesses flee the Windy City.  One of the few increasing numbers is the murder rate.  And not to mention the increasing taxes. 

Number five is … Detroit, Michigan.  I suppose the surprise here is that Detroit is not number one.  Go figure.  Detroit lost 7.4 percent of its population between 2019 and 2022 – and a lot before that.  Second only to … (Oh, I cannot mention that since it would give away the big winner.)   In terms of business, jobs and taxpayers hitting the road out of the Motor City, that is nothing new.  In fact, Detroit was America’s leading example of how to crash a city – and the only one to officially declare bankruptcy.

Number four is … Boston, Massachusetts.  Beantown is not far behind Detroit with a 6 percent drop in population in the three years of the Study.  It has all the typical problems of a declining city – sluggish growth high taxes, etc., etc., etc. 

Number three is … New York, New York.  Apparently Frank Sinatra’s old refrain that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.  What happens if you cannot make it in New York as a lot of fleeing residents seem to think?  New York had the highest jump in unemployment (1.2%) between 2019 and 2022 – a first-place tie with Detroit.  The Big Apple’s problems are well known since it is arguably the most reported city in America.  Is that because all the major news media operate out of Manhattan?  Of course, it is.

Number two is … New Orleans, Louisiana.  Louisiana has two cities in the top ten.  According to the FinanceBuzz survey, the Big Easy is not as big and not as easy.  People are not only abandoning the city (5% decline in the three years of the study), but they are also abandoning their homes.  New Orleans has 23 percent of its homes unoccupied … empty … vacant.  That explains the very low rate of new home construction … eh?  The economy is … yeah … sluggish.

 Number one is … (Now the drum roll) … San Francisco.  In the three years of the FinanceBuzz study, the City by the Bay lost an incredible 8.29 percent of its population.  That was the largest drop of any of the 117 cities studied.  San Francisco has all the problems of the other ten most declining cities, but a few unique ones.  Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but most others are leaving something less romantic.  As far as I know, it has the only “poop map” to locate human waste in the commons.

So, there you have it.  America’s fastest declining cities. 

I would be remiss if I did not note that 90 percent of them (that’s 9 out the 10) are cities with long, long terms of Democrat administrations.  The one exception is … Anchorage.  It has a Republican mayor today, but it was a Democrat at the time of the study.

This is only one of many surveys that list the worst American cities for this or that reason.  But when it comes to cities that are less resident friendly for whatever reason, most of those on this list are found on the others.  It is just a fact, that Democrats do not run cities very well these days.  And I trust that most Americans know the reasons why.

So, there tis’.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. John sloan

    Democrats have ruined the cities and the country. And it’s amazing that there’s so many stupid people still supporting the damned Marxists


    Most of these population, top ten growth, etc. stories are skewed by the variables chosen. Usually the study is not statistically valid, although often, like this one, some good info. In this case, the “factors” were weighted using a system defined by the author. IOW, the decline number targeting population growth/decline was “factored” using other criteria which was then “weighted” by the author to provide the final score.

    As an aside, the UN projects population size for major metro’s. Here’s the the UN says:
    Baton Rouge — healthy increase for last four years
    Honolulu —- slight increase in each of last four years
    Portland — increase each of last four years
    Anchorage — not tracked
    Chicago, Boston, Detroit, New York, San Fran, New Orleans —- all with slight increase, each of last four years

    That just can’t be true, must be the zip codes. As might be the case with Horist’s story too. I looked at World Population review that said: “In 1950, Detroit was the 4th largest city in the country, but its population has been in decline for the past 60 years with the second largest population decline in the country (second only to St. Louis).

    New York City is currently declining at a rate of -3.48% annually and its population has decreased by -13.22% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 8,772,978 in 2020. (NOTE the date: the exodus starts in year one of covid.)

    The most significant increase in New York City’s population occurred in the borough of Brooklyn, which showed a population increase of 5.3% between the 2010 census and 2016 estimates. The second most substantial change is in the Bronx, which reflected a 5.1% increase, followed by Queens (4.9%), Manhattan (3.7%) and Staten Island (1.2%)

    New York City’s population is expected to reach 9 million by 2040, based on recent projections created by the city. Among the five boroughs, the Bronx’s growth is projected to be the highest at 14% between 2010 and 2040. On the flip side, Manhattan is expected to grow by 6.7% by 2040.

    Chicago is currently declining at a rate of -1.65% annually and its population has decreased by -6.43% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 2,741,730 in 2020.

    Growth, fueled by wave after wave of immigration; continued right up until 1950, where Chicago reached its highest ever population of 3,620,962.

    Ever since then, Chicago has, like so many of America’s grand cities, been in decline. Almost every census since 1960 has recorded a drop in population – sometimes as much as 10% in a decade – as the city’s population gradually moves outwards to the more hospitable surrounding suburbs.”

    As the population of Chicago itself has gradually fallen, the population of its wider metro area has grown, representing both natural growth in those areas and a gradual move of the city’s workforce into its suburbs.

    San Francisco is currently declining at a rate of -6.3% annually and its population has decreased by -22.92% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 870,014 in 2020. (NOTE: the recent precipitous decline starts in year one of Covid.)

    The population of San Francisco is projected to reach 969,000 by 2035, which is nearly a 20% increase from today’s population, and development is already underway to help the city grow. 80% of the city’s growth is likely to occur in just 20% of the city, and the density of San Francisco will only go up.”

    Now, that’s just population with a little commentary on top. NOTE that no one is pointing at Democrats except Horist. Also, even without looking at the entire list, it’s obvious that each city is unique. Chicago, for example, has been dying ever since Horist began working there. Coincidence? Actually, folks have been moving to suburbs forever which have been growing by leaps n bounds. Also, there is no doubt that crime matters here too. NYC and San Fran — same concept but only recent, not decades, and instigated by covid in 2020. Covid is a common thread in this. FYI, same thing happened to NYC post 9/11. NJ is the recipient of a lot of this and it include business too. I worked Wall Street during 9/11, and I remember being high over Manhattan, speaking to Goldman Sachs but seeing a silver finger like structure, like a middle finger pointing East, rising on the NJ coast, radiating the early sun off it’s silver and glass walls. It was the new post 9/11 building and the folks in the room were not happy about having to move but also to a place that looked to be giving the middle finger to the Middle East. All has been well though, but the NJ riverfront is booming. Remember, NY never looked better than from the NJ side.

    Bottom line:
    All cities unique, some rise and fall quickly, others like Chicago decline for decades.

    There is no statistical validity to saying it’s the Democrats fault, may not even be a correlation.

    Covid has a big part to play in the current exodus; even work life-styles of WAH can change where you want to live. We are rural, for NJ, and in our youth, made the commute. Today, we either WAH or quit. We will not be moved again!!!

    Most of these surveys need to be taken with a grain of salt. Not statistically valid and, like this one, may use factors and weighting to tell a story, or spin.

    Putting spin on top of it as Horist has done usually is invalid and skewed to make a point. For Horist, that is once again his famed mantra: All things Democrat are bad. It’s all their fault.

    Remember, Mr. Horist, Florida will fall, it’s an economic bubble with a Florida foundation, built on a sink hold of a service-economy with much infrastructure lacking and weather permitting, I will be here to remind you and will spin stories like this, as you do, but blaming Republicans…….

  3. AC

    Larry, you’re correct, Numbers don’t lie.
    But numbers don’t tell the whole tale at the margin. WHO are those individuals? Why did they relocate? Where did they move to.
    I know folks who live in several of those cities you mentioned. Surprisingly, one couple left Detroit and now live in Boston town. They hated leaving Detroit where they had lived all their life, but job promotion transferred the husband to Boston. Now, after two years in Boston they love their new home town.
    Americans are actively moving their lives from place to place. It is a healthy sign of a vibrant nation and economic hope.
    Another story not included in cold statistics are not found in footnotes. That real estate agents and brokers are doing well representing people selling a home in one of your listed cities. However, the new home happens to be not in the city but in a neighboring town. As an economic unit this family of four will not uproot from the area. The couple continue working at the same places, shop in the same familiar places, and not stop investing in their community.
    Statistical studies, I know, leave an out for statistical error by a plus or minus percentage. But, my point is, deeper study at the individual case level, can show us the “rest of the story” as Paul
    Harvey used to say.
    Your big picture broad brush stroke rendition leaves the impression you base a story on. Even so, the true story goes untold when naked no meat on the bone statistic numbers are your only facts in evidence. The heart of the matter is not including any heart in the story.
    Easy number crunching can be done by any Joe blow. They can see what you see.
    There is no super insight required or huge leap involved. Head lining stories, if all you read are the headlines, do not make for a substantive intelligent insightful commentary
    Stating that large urban communities are in decay and in trouble. You go on saying, the majority of large urban communities have Democrats in public office. And, Except for the few Democrats, Larry, you, mention are your friends, the rest are trouble and corrupt. Therefore, the root of our nation’s cities rot is Democrat Party control.
    Poppy cock, man!
    The Big Picture you opine is in your version of the stories wherein you barely allude to “the why” behind the change in cities’ population. Your go to answer always is Democrats. It doesn’t take a masters degree in urban planning and sociology for the common person to deduce the truth. It takes two to do the tango. In the case of cities, the two dance partners are Republicans and Democrats.
    Guilting and blaming one party, you push all the responsibilities off your own obligations and totally on the other. That the easy and cheap knee jerk response to a serious situation in this country.
    Government is most democratic when its officialdom understands it represents ALL the people. It is irresponsible of government when it passes by those barely hanging on the lowest rung of our social economic ladder.
    The MO you find convenient happens to be that most congested of roads predominated by Republicans. It that good old low road. That Republicans take to because traveling it is morally easy and ethically cheap.
    The Big Story you think is told by you through your commentaries is not the true whole story that needs objective reporting.
    Seeing the world situation through a strictly Republican opinionated bias means wearing political blinders. With which the true objective context will never come into your view. And, with out true objective context in full sight and appreciation there is an information void called ignorance. Ignorance is a lawyers fear and cause for failure. In a court of law a judge wants and expects all relevant evidence placed before him and lawyers on both sides posses the facts understanding context in evidence.
    You chose Economics for your profession. Errors made are not that consequential or the difference between conviction and freedom. Then, context considerations are not a factor in any economic equation.
    Finally, I feel it’s rude when someone tells another, ignorance is bliss. Then, there is always that. Ignorance without excuse.


    Horist seems a very angry victim: “Every now and then, we find a study that confirms what most folks know from common knowledge and common sense – like which are the ten American cities in serious decline – meaning they are heading or already in the socio-economic crapper. That is merely an academic term meaning you would not like living there – unless you do not mind increasing taxes and decreasing jobs and cutbacks in municipal services. Understandably, most of the top ten declining cities are exodus cities – even with the influx of illegal aliens.” Here he spins out of control, does not link the source, for obvious reasons, and seems to grab his tired old spin one more time, it’s the Democrats fault, except in Anchorage where it could be, yada, yada, yada. His article is inaptly titled: “AMERICA’S TOP TEN DECLINING CITIES” The source article is correctly titled: “The fastest-growing and declining cities across the US – 2023”

    Yes, it touches on many of the Horist items, but the source is talking population, not total societal, infrastructure etc. declines. And the conclusions from the real story:
    • “San Francisco, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; and New York, New York, are the fastest-declining cities in the United States.
    • Frisco, Texas; Gilbert, Arizona; and Chandler, Arizona, are among the fastest-rising cities nationwide.
    • Texas has four cities that rank in the top 25 fastest-declining metropolitan areas.”

    FYI: while Frisco leans Republican, Democrats have been increasing in number with the growth, go figure, probably all from Detroit; Cheney the mayor does not disclose party, I am guessing Indy or Dem, Horist who counts all cities may know. Gilbert – Chandler – I, the area leans left, mostly coming from NYC no doubt, and Chandler, I, but the city flipped Democrat in the 2020 election, cheaters from Portland no doubt.
    But the bottom line is that the growth cities do not seem to be firmly Republican. Funny sidenote, most of these mayors don’t disclose party.

    Horist also left off that last bullet point from the real story that Texas, the last place you would imagine, the strongest of Republican strongholds, has 4 out of the top 25 declining cities. What’s up with that? Democrats? Can’t be, Austin is not on the list :>)

    The actual criteria:
    • Population change (2019 to 2022)
    • Unemployment rate change (2019 to 2022)
    • Per capita income increase compared to peer cities (2019 to 2022):
    • New home construction
    • New businesses
    • Percentage of homes that are vacant
    • Home value increase compared to peer cities (2019 to 2022)
    • Percentage of residents with debt in collections

    It’s a pretty focused view, focused on population change, and the things that most greatly affect that. And golly jeepers, seems to coincide with a population move from the North to the SW. Damned Dems on the move again. And while the ever happy Horist focuses on the losers, there are winners too, some have Democrats in power, including: Frisco, Texas, Gilbert, Arizona, Chandler, Arizona, North Las Vegas, Nevada, Glendale, Arizona, Orlando, Florida, Port St. Lucie, Florida, Huntsville, Alabama, Miami, Florida, and Boise, Idaho

    With three home state winners, not sure why Horist drops this from the list unless it makes Democrats look better. Oh yeah, that would go against the “all cities bad, all cities democrat controlled,” spin. From the same source, updated 2024, here’s the top 13 reasons Horist is stupid to retire to Florida. While the labels are funny, the text is more revealing showing how Florida is expensive, has little mass transit for lower income folk to get around, has sketchy weather, but leaves out the part about a service-based economy that is first to win, first to lose in times of economic uncertainty.

    Hurricanes are a threat, Other natural risks loom large. Home insurance costs are high, . Housing is getting more expensive, Taxes might be higher than you think, The state is full of retirees, Your family probably isn’t there,. You might end up moving again,. The beach can get boring and there isn’t much else to do. Too much time in the sun can be unhealthy, check the Horist bio pic, Roads are congested and expensive. You might end up inside more often than you think and, the biggun: Florida has a relatively high cost of living

    Point is these surveys are very focused on a topic and expanding said topic with your own spin generally is not appropriate. Fact is they are not statistically valid to begin with. I think the best is the yearly Mayflower moving report used to basically say the NE sucks and the SW is where it’s at. What they leave out is the fact that this represents a sample that chooses Mayflower to move. That is a certain demographic, but more importantly leaves out many major demographics that don’t choose Mayflower yet move in or out of the NE. But once a year, like Hoirst, the run the same old tired story against the newest survey.

    Bottom line: interesting stuff, wouldn’t bet the farm on the spin.

  5. Darren

    There is a big difference between people coming and going and a consensus of
    how people actually feel.
    People always leave or move too and from a city for work or what ever reason.
    The consensus is a bit different.
    If those people claimed are leaving cities, I would assume there to be a Load of labor needed and
    jobs waiting for people.
    Why is there no one going to take the Jobs.
    Because those town are becoming Shit Holes!
    Numbers of the past have no influences on what is taking place at this moment in time!
    And yes, thank you Biden!


    Probably not true Darren. In the case of many cities, a sizeable amount of the population has moved to suburbia and still works and plays in the city.

    For years, Mayflower has said they be fleeing NJ and they have the Mayflower stats to prove it. NJ grew by close to 4% in 2019-2020 and then fell .1% for 2021 and 2022 and now just grew .4% for 2023. Mayflower’s survey is wrong because it choses it’s own variables and is not statistically valid.

    How could Biden change the cities in three years. Chicago has been in decline since Horist started working there. But again, they mostly moved to the suburbs, still work in the city, and after 4 or 5 decades of decline, the “shithole” you reference still stands, the magnificent mile still stands, and I still wouldn’t touch the beach. Not because of being a shithole, but because it’s a freaking cold lake. Cities rise, they fall, and then they rise again. Except Buffalo, these poor bastards can not catch a break.

  7. Charles

    The list should tells us all that Democrat government is a bad thing and encourage people to vote GOP and just maybe start to get things turned around. America can not afford Democrat leadership or Government.


    Playing the Horist game at the State level instead of city level, my what an interesting picture unfolds. From Mr. Horist’s same source, the top ten declining STATES based on foreclosures with a five and five outcome for red and blue: Georgia: voted red last 8 out of 10 Presidential elections comes in at number 10. Michigan: voted blue last 7 out of 10 Presidential elections for blue. Florida, Indiana: Red. Delaware, Nevada: Blue. South Carolina, Ohio: Red. New Jersey, Illinois: Blue

    But if you need a job, according to Horist’s source, here’s the ten worst places to look: Ohio, Alabama, South Carolina: all red. Pennsylvania: 7 out of 10 Presidential elections go blue. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia: red.

    But for making money, here’s the bottom ten median income states: Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, New Mexico, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri. That’s nine reds and a blue — the blue being a 7 out of 10 democrat Presidential vote.

    But if you like a decent salary, try the top ten States: Maryland Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, California, Hawaii, Washington, Connecticut, Colorado, and Virginia —- All Blue.

    Now, I can do the same across a number of vectors like: who gets more Federal support: red. Who pays more taxes: blue. Who is better educated: blue. Who gets more child support funding: red. Greatest risk of death by gun: red. Most guns per citizen: red. Safest gun states: blue.

    But if it’s rape you like, and soon the most rape babies, the top ten states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Michigan (leans blue), Colorado (blue), Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, 8 reds and a couple of blue/blue leaning.

    To avoid rape, try NJ, CT, DE, MA, PA, NY, AL, VA, FL, and NC where it;a rhw opposite trend and a couple of reds snuck in.

    In all honesty, I believe this is America and many urban, suburban, ex-urban, and rural statistics portray the entire country and not one particular political party. For any of the statistics noted above, there’s a million other variables affected the outcomes and these surveys, in their narrow focus, do not adequately address which party does better. Horist just spins it drawing improbable conclusions from a paucity of statistical data