12 Cities in America Where the Dream is Dying

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The idea of the American Dream—a promise of prosperity, success, and upward mobility—has inspired countless individuals for generations. However, in some American cities, this dream has become increasingly elusive.

Factors such as high living costs, economic disparity, and limited job opportunities have made it difficult for residents to achieve financial stability and growth. After surveying the consumer index report of 2024 and various other data reports, here we provide you a clear picture of why the American Dream feels out of reach in these places. Each of these cities make the pursuit of the American Dream difficult for many of their residents.

San Francisco, California

  • Main Reason: High Cost of Living.

San Francisco’s housing costs are among the highest in the nation. The median home price is more than 60% than the national average. Making homeownership unattainable for many in this city.

According to a report by Zumper, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $3,195 per month. It is very difficult for an average working person to achieve his/her American dream at this rate of increasing cost of living in CA.

New York City, New York

  • Main Reason: Economic Disparity.

While NYC is a hub for opportunities, it also has significant income inequality. The top 5% of earners make 88 times more than the bottom 20%. Many residents struggle with high rent, which averages $4,200 for a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, according to RentCafe. This makes it nearly impossible for lower-income families to afford decent living conditions. Many residents work multiple jobs and still struggle to make ends meet. It highlights the deep economic divide that hinders upward mobility in the city.

Los Angeles, California

  • Main Reason: Homelessness.

In Los Angeles, the dream of a stable and prosperous life is hampered by a severe homelessness crisis. Los Angeles has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, with over 66,000 people experiencing homelessness as per the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Skyrocketing housing prices and a lack of affordable housing contribute to this crisis. Living conditions for an average working person is quite worse in real life for the city of Los Angeles.

Miami, Florida

  • Main Reason: Low Wages.

Despite being a popular tourist destination, many Miami residents face low wages. The median annual wage is $34,320, significantly lower than the national average.

As per Workstream hourly wage index 2024, the minimum wage for a person is around $11.00 per hour. It is significantly lower than the living wage in Miami for everyone. This disparity makes it hard to keep up with the rising cost of living.

Detroit, Michigan

  • Main Reason: Economic Decline.

Detroit’s economy has struggled for years. According to Michigan state gov. report of 2024, the city has a high unemployment rate of 7.8%, nearly double the national average.

Additionally, many residents live below the poverty line, with 30% of the population experiencing poverty. Due to this the city is also experiencing a significant decline in its population size.

New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Main Reason: Natural disasters and recovery.

Frequent hurricanes, like Katrina in 2005, and ongoing flooding have caused widespread damage, displacing families and destroying homes.

These disasters have left New Orleans in a constant state of recovery. The city’s recovery efforts are slow, with infrastructure and housing often left in disrepair. The city’s infrastructure and economy have been severely impacted, with the median household income at $41,604, well below the national median.

Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Main Reason: Job Instability.

Las Vegas heavily relies on the tourism and entertainment industries, which are highly sensitive to economic downturns. The city saw a spike in unemployment to 34% during the COVID-19 pandemic, the highest in the nation at the time. This volatility makes it difficult for residents to achieve financial security and plan for the future, undermining their ability to realize the American Dream.

Baltimore, Maryland

  • Main Reason: Crime and Safety Concerns.

Baltimore struggles with a high crime rate, which affects the quality of life and economic growth. The city has one of the highest murder rates in the country, with 58 homicides per 100,000 people, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. The increasing crime rate of this city is a huge concern for the state authorities. Safety issues are the biggest obstacle for an average person to work his way up in this city.

Cleveland, Ohio

  • Main Reason: Poverty.

Cleveland faces a significant poverty rate issue in the nation. There are at least 30.8% of its residents living below the poverty line. As per the U.S. Census report data, Cleveland ranks as the poorest big city in the United States. The median household income is only $31,838, making it challenging for many to achieve economic stability. Progress cannot be attained in this city due to these increasing poverty rates. One has to let go of that dream to survive in such a difficult city.

Stockton, California

  • Main Reason: Foreclosure Rates.

Stockton has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. In 2023, it reported a foreclosure rate of 1 in every 1,961 housing units. This issue has led to a high number of abandoned homes and neighborhoods in decline. The economic downturn and job losses have made it difficult for many homeowners to keep up with mortgage payments, pushing more families out of their homes. The American dream remains a dream for many residents of this city.

Chicago, Illinois

  • Main Reason: High crime rates and economic inequality.

Chicago struggles with both high crime rates and significant economic inequality. The city has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation, with a total of 697 homicides in 2022 as per the Wirepoints new data report. The economic disparity is stark, with many neighborhoods experiencing high levels of poverty. In some areas, over 450,000 of residents live below the poverty line, making it difficult for families to achieve financial stability. It is the worst poverty crisis for the city.

Birmingham, Alabama

  • Main Reason: Economic challenges and high unemployment.

Birmingham has long struggled with economic challenges and high unemployment rates. The city’s unemployment rate is 6.5%, higher than the national average. The combination of limited job opportunities, low wages, and economic hardship makes it difficult for many residents to achieve financial stability and pursue the American Dream.