Sometimes, it’s just as important to recognize what will plunge you into near-certain misery as it is to know what will make you happy. You spend a lot of your life working, so what could be worse than doing it in a city where most of the employees claim to be miserable?
Certainly, the job itself is important, but why take a chance? The verdict is in, and these cities are among the worst in the country for employee happiness. Consider this to be a cautionary list.
New York, NY
New York residents either love living in the Big Apple or absolutely loathe their existence. It’s no secret why New York is home to some of the most miserable employees in America. Forced transportation via an underground network of glorified soda cans is just the starting point for the complaints.
Ahhh, Oakland. Sure, it's gentrifying nicely. After all, those who don't make an absolute killing in San Francisco have no choice but to live in Oakland. The seemingly endless financial bubble created by limited housing and Silicon Valley wealth is slowly but surely making its way to Oakland too.
Job site kununu interviewed numerous employees in cities across America, and those results factored heavily into this list. Memphis is a city that is culturally underrated, with a rich musical history, a great downtown center that revolves around Beale Street and barbecue that is out of this world.
It’s difficult to generalize about Houston because it’s the fourth-largest city in the United States. It’s so big that you inevitably get a great deal of variance in terms of the happiness of Houston's employed population. People in the suburbs tend to be quite happy, for example.
Nothing against Texas, honestly. This just happens to be how the Least Happy Employees in America rankings turned out. Apparently, Dallas is home to more than its fair share of those unhappy employees if the rankings are to be believed.
El Paso, TX
El Paso’s proximity to the southern border of the United States makes it an understandable addition to the list. While the city itself is actually much safer than many might expect, those who work there may deal with a lot of upheaval due to the constant flow of new people in and out of the city.
Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs just sounds like a beautiful place, doesn’t it? The mountains of Southern Colorado are as scenic in real life as they are in pictures. So, what is it about Colorado Springs that has local employees wanting to move? The Air Force Academy is there, and it feels a lot like a military town, which could partly explain it.
Did you know that Wisconsin is cold? Like, really, really cold? Apparently, the harsh winters are getting to the employed residents of Milwaukee, because they rank near the bottom of the survey rankings for the unhappiest employee cities in America. Unlike many cities in Wisconsin, Milwaukee also has its fair share of poverty and crime.
It's apparently well known throughout New Mexico that Albuquerque gets a "bad rap" in some internet circles. So, why does Albuquerque suffer from so much criticism? Those who live there point to its sky-high national ranking in terms of auto theft as well as its spread-out metropolitan area.
This is one city you may be surprised to see on this list, as North Carolina is typically known for relatively pleasant weather, easy access to beautiful mountains and an overall sense of appealing "quaintness." One possibility for what could make working in Charlotte a hassle: traffic.
Those who love Shreveport swear by it, but WalletHub's rankings of "Best and Worst Cities to Start a Career In" places Shreveport squarely at the bottom. The reason is it ranks low in terms of both professional opportunity and quality of life. These rankings considered several factors, including job market saturation, housing affordability and commuter friendliness, among other variables.
It keeps being said that Detroit is coming back, but is that really true? Remember that Eminem commercial with him driving in a Chrysler sedan and talking about how Detroit was on its way back? If an Eminem commercial can't change the widely held perception that Detroit is a brutal place to live and work, then what can?
Sticking with WalletHub's extensive list of the cities with the lowest employment opportunities and quality of life, Montgomery rears its (not-so-pretty) head on the list of cities with the worst employment situation. It ranked dead last (182nd) in terms of professional opportunities.
Do a Google Image search of the term "Hialeah, FL," and you will quickly realize why the Miami suburb ranks so low in terms of employee satisfaction. Apparently, there is one building worth taking a picture of in the city (and it's pictured here).
Bridgeport, CT, ranked 176th on the list of American cities with good professional opportunities, which obviously isn’t good. It is perpetually among the cities in Connecticut with the highest unemployment rate — often coming in at number one in that respect.
Pearl City, HI
Can you imagine how depressing it would be to scroll through nothing but photo after photo of the most economically downtrodden cities in America? This one should give you an idea. It's difficult to imagine that any city in Hawaii could be as industrial and unnatural looking as Pearl City.
The Balance ranked Newark as the third worst city to find a job, behind Shreveport and Detroit. If you've ever been to Newark, you may not know that it has lots of crime and slum areas. One problem is the taxes are extremely high, as they are in all the counties in New Jersey.
USA Today ranked Arvin, CA, the 47th worst city to live in, and if a city is terrible to live in, what are the chances local employees are going to be happy living there? Seriously, they go hand-in-hand, and residents of Arvin — a landlocked wasteland in Southern California that looks like something straight out of Grapes of Wrath — are feeling the pain.
Fort Smith, AR
USA Today ranked Fort Smith, AR, as one of the worst cities to live in or work in in the United States. The reasoning was simple: It offers few economic opportunities, a poor educational system and lots of crime. Do you really need to hear more?
Toledo ranked near the bottom in WalletHub's Professional Opportunity rankings, which is why it's on this list of cities where employment isn’t great. Certainly, there are nice things about Toledo — the people, for one — but those who live there complain about relatively high crime rates, especially for its size.
USA Today wasn’t kind to Mendota, CA, listing it as the single "worst" city in America to call home. It's easy to see how the writers could come to that conclusion, as the poverty rate in Mendota is a mind-numbing 49.5%. One in two people in Mendota doesn't have a job!
California City, CA
According to USA Today, California City, CA, is about as good at providing quality jobs for its residents as it is at coming up with an original name. It’s in the top 10% of unemployment rates in the nation, with just a tad fewer than 30% of its residents lacking a job.
Highland Park, MI
Highland Park is a suburb of Detroit that is basically in the same boat as Detroit itself. With the slow death of American manufacturing and the American auto industry, in particular, parts of the city have turned into abandoned ghost towns, where the only thing higher than the crime rate is the unemployment rate.
Bessemer, AL, is one of those tiny, rural Southern towns that you may not even realize is there until you're driving through it. Based on a Google Image search, its most defining feature is the railroad track running through town, but it’s also plagued with sky-high unemployment and poverty rates.
Avenal, CA, is one of those towns where you see the old school movie theater and think, "Oh, that's cute!" But then you realize how little the town has progressed if that’s the only movie theater. Then you look at the economic statistics for the town and think, "Oh, that's sad!"
What did you say, most promising young job candidates in America? You don’t want lead and other toxic chemicals in your drinking and bathing water? Well, perhaps Flint, MI, isn’t the town for you! But you already knew that, didn't you?
East St. Louis, IL
East St. Louis sits across the river from the main city in Illinois. It has all the trappings of most of the cities on this list: high crime, few professional opportunities, massive unemployment and a shortage of happy employees. The unemployment rate of more than 43% is in the top 10% in the country.
Union City, GA
If you looked at Union City, GA, on a Google Image search, you might think it was quaint. It looks like one of those small, dot-on-the-map Southern towns that time forgot. Seemingly innocent enough, right? The stats tell a different story.
Firebaugh, CA, isn’t a particularly violent town. It’s just a landlocked desert city in South Central California that is as barren visually as it is in terms of employment. You get the idea from the photo. It’s one of those places where most residents can't wait to leave — if they only had a way out.
If you drive through or even near Bogalusa, LA, you will smell a distinct odor. You may think initially that it’s roadkill — yes, it smells that bad — but anyone familiar with the smell will tell you it’s just the paper plant. It turns out that cities that embrace the all-encompassing stink of papermaking aren't likely to attract many other quality employers.