This City Has Been Named the Worst City to Live in South Dakota

In recent years, Aberdeen, South Dakota, has faced significant challenges, leading to its designation as the worst city to live in the state according to a 2021 study by 24/7 Wall Street. This ranking highlights the city’s ongoing struggles, which have contributed to its relatively low livability score. Understanding these issues is crucial to addressing them and improving Aberdeen’s future.

Dissecting the Underlying Causes: An In-depth Analysis of Aberdeen’s Struggles

Aberdeen, a city with a unique blend of history and potential, is currently facing a complex set of challenges that have a profound impact on the quality of life for its residents. A recent study conducted by 24/7 Wall Street has scrutinized various key metrics, including unemployment rates, poverty levels, median household incomes, crime rates, and access to quality education and healthcare. In this comprehensive examination, we delve into the root causes behind Aberdeen’s difficulties in these critical areas.

High Poverty Rate: A Persistent Challenge

Aberdeen grapples with a persistently high poverty rate of 21.5%, a figure significantly exceeding the national average of 11.4%. This high poverty rate contributes to a web of social and economic problems, including elevated crime rates, unemployment, and poor health outcomes. Poverty, in many cases, acts as a formidable barrier, limiting access to opportunities and basic necessities.

Elevated Unemployment Rate: Economic Strain

The city is confronted with an elevated unemployment rate of 4.9%, surpassing both state and national averages. High unemployment exacerbates financial hardship for residents, creating a hindrance to economic growth in the city. A lack of job opportunities impedes the realization of economic prosperity and social well-being within the community.

Lower Median Household Income: Financial Hurdles

Aberdeen faces the challenge of lower median household incomes, which currently stand at $50,313, falling below both state and national averages. This reduced income level poses significant challenges for residents, making it difficult to afford basic necessities, save for retirement, or even consider starting a family. Financial difficulties stemming from these disparities have profound implications for the overall quality of life in the city.

Persistent Crime Rates: Safety Concerns

Aberdeen contends with elevated crime rates, notably in terms of overall criminal offenses. In 2021, the city reported 860 criminal offenses, resulting in a rate of 3,986.1 per 100,000 people—higher than both state and national averages. Elevated crime rates create a sense of insecurity among residents, restricting their freedom of movement and engagement within their communities. This is a critical issue that Aberdeen must address to create a safer and more livable environment.

Struggling Education System: Educational Disparities

Investing in the educational system is paramount for Aberdeen’s future. However, the city faces persistent challenges, characterized by disparities in resources and performance across different neighborhoods. Some schools struggle with overcrowded classrooms, outdated facilities, and a shortage of qualified teachers. These challenges lead to poor academic outcomes for students in these schools, exacerbating educational disparities within the community.

Limited Access to Healthcare: Health and Well-being

Access to quality healthcare is fundamental for the well-being of Aberdeen’s residents. Nevertheless, the city confronts challenges in providing adequate access to healthcare services for all. A shortage of healthcare providers in certain specialties results in long wait times for appointments, obstructing residents’ ability to manage their health and well-being effectively.

Addressing the Challenges: A Path to Improvement in Aberdeen

Aberdeen, a city with a rich history and untapped potential, is resolute in its pursuit of a brighter future for its residents. In the face of significant challenges, community leaders, government officials, and non-profit organizations are joining forces to address the city’s most pressing issues. Here is an in-depth look at the initiatives undertaken to tackle these challenges and pave the way for improvement:

Economic Development Initiatives

Aberdeen recognizes the pivotal role of a robust economy in enhancing livability. The city is actively attracting new businesses and industries through several strategies:

  • Business Attraction: Aberdeen is promoting its strategic location, transportation infrastructure, and skilled workforce to attract new businesses and industries. This strategy creates job opportunities and revitalizes the local economy, fostering economic growth and prosperity.

Poverty Reduction Initiatives

Tackling the high poverty rate in Aberdeen is a top priority for the city’s leaders. Several strategies are being employed to address this complex issue:

  • Job Training Programs: The city has implemented job training programs to equip residents with the skills and resources they need to secure gainful employment and break the cycle of poverty. These programs bridge the gap between job market demands and the skills of job seekers.
  • Financial Literacy Workshops: Empowering residents with financial literacy skills is a crucial step toward financial independence. Financial literacy workshops help individuals manage their finances effectively, make informed decisions, and build a stable financial future.
  • Affordable Housing Initiatives: Access to affordable housing is fundamental for poverty alleviation. Affordable housing initiatives provide safe and stable housing options for low-income individuals and families, offering them the stability needed for upward mobility.

Crime Prevention Efforts

Enhancing safety and reducing crime is a vital aspect of Aberdeen’s path to improvement. Law enforcement agencies are adopting a multifaceted approach:

  • Community Policing Strategies: Community policing fosters trust and collaboration between law enforcement and the community. Officers work closely with residents to address local concerns, build safer neighborhoods, and create a sense of security.
  • Technology-Driven Crime Prevention: Leveraging technology for crime prevention, including surveillance systems and data analysis, empowers law enforcement to deter criminal activity and improve public safety.
  • Social Programs: To address the root causes of crime, social programs are offering support and opportunities to at-risk individuals, ultimately reducing crime rates by addressing underlying social and economic issues.

Educational Reforms

Investing in education is a cornerstone of Aberdeen’s improvement efforts. The city is focused on improving its public school system:

  • Early Childhood Education Programs: Investing in early childhood education programs prepares children for academic success and reduces educational disparities from an early age, laying the foundation for brighter futures.
  • Teacher Training: Enhancing teacher training ensures that educators are well-equipped to provide high-quality instruction, address the diverse needs of students, and raise academic standards.
  • Parental Involvement: Increasing parental involvement in schools fosters a supportive and engaging learning environment, creating a partnership between parents, educators, and students that enhances academic outcomes.

Expanding Healthcare Access

Ensuring access to quality healthcare is essential for the well-being of Aberdeen’s residents. The city is actively working to improve healthcare access:

  • Attracting Healthcare Providers: Aberdeen aims to attract more healthcare providers to the area, particularly in specialties where shortages exist, ensuring that residents have access to a wide range of medical services.
  • Telehealth Services: The expansion of telehealth services enables residents to access medical care remotely, improving access to healthcare, especially in underserved areas.
  • Preventive Care: Efforts to improve access to preventive care are crucial for early disease detection and overall well-being.


In conclusion, Aberdeen’s struggles are apparent across various critical areas, including high poverty rates, elevated unemployment, lower median household incomes, persistent crime rates, educational disparities, and limited access to healthcare. Understanding these root causes is the first step toward finding effective solutions to improve the city’s livability and create a better future for its residents. Collaborative efforts from community leaders, government officials, and non-profit organizations are crucial in addressing these challenges and revitalizing Aberdeen.

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Sean O
Sean O

Sean thinks the world of Montgomery County, Maryland. She grew up in the area starting from Silver Spring and has been involved in various organizations around the County. With the transformation of downtown Silver Spring, She pioneered interest in online content specific to the area. Sean graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a focus in Economics and Geographic Information Science.

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