10 Fastest-Declining Cities in the US, According to the Data

10 Fastest-Declining Cities in the US, According to the Data

Recent studies have illuminated the cities experiencing the most significant declines across the United States. The ranking below is based on a comprehensive analysis covering 2019 to 2022. It has identified the country’s ten fastest-declining cities based on population change, economic indicators, and housing market trends.

Let’s take a closer look at these cities and the challenges they face.

What Is the Fastest Shrinking Cities in America?

According to recent data from multiple sources, the ten fastest-declining cities in the US in 2024 based on the previously recorded trends are: [1] [2] [3]

  1. San Francisco, California – Experienced an 8.29% population decline between 2019 and 2022, with sluggish home value growth and a high rate of vacant properties.
  2. New Orleans, Louisiana – Notable for a 5% population decline and the highest rate of vacant houses among major cities.
  3. New York, New York – Faced economic challenges with a 71% slower home value growth compared to other cities and an increased unemployment rate.
  4. Boston, Massachusetts – Saw a 6% decline in population and a significant lag in home value growth.
  5. Detroit, Michigan – Suffered a 7.4% population decline and slow per capita income growth, trailing the national average by 75%.
  6. Chicago, Illinois – Experienced a significant net population decline, slow home value growth, and high homicide rates.
  7. Anchorage, Alaska, has seen a steady population decline since 2014 and economic struggles.
  8. Portland, Oregon – Encountered a 3% population decline and slow economic recovery following social unrest in 2020.
  9. Honolulu, Hawaii – Faced economic challenges and slow population growth.
  10. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Struggles with population decline and economic issues similar to those of other cities on this list.

Over the past few years, population decline, economic stagnation, and other socio-economic challenges have affected these major US cities.

Keep reading for a deeper look into the causes of the declines of each of these cities.

The Exodus from San Francisco: A Closer Look at the Startling Population Decline

San Francisco, once a thriving tech hub and cultural mecca, has witnessed a staggering 8.29% population decline between 2019 and 2022. This departure can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the exorbitant cost of living and the shifting dynamics in the work landscape.

As remote work becomes more prevalent, many residents leave the city, searching for more affordable places to live. The long-term impact of this population decline on San Francisco’s economy and housing market remains to be seen. Still, it undoubtedly challenges the city’s future growth and stability.

New Orleans’ Vacant Houses: Understanding the City’s Unique Challenges

New Orleans, known for its vibrant culture and resilient spirit, grapples with the highest rate of vacant houses among major cities in the United States. This issue stems from a complex interplay of factors, including the long-term effects of Hurricane Katrina and persistent economic challenges.

The abundance of vacant properties detracts from the city’s aesthetic appeal and poses significant obstacles to community well-being and future development. Addressing this problem will require a concerted effort from local authorities and community stakeholders to revitalize neighborhoods and attract new residents.

New York’s Economic Hurdles: Sluggish Home Values and Rising Unemployment

New York City, the world’s financial capital, is not immune to economic headwinds. The city has experienced a 71% slower home value growth than others, indicating a cooling housing market.

Additionally, New York has seen a notable increase in its unemployment rate, which has far-reaching implications for its residents.

These economic challenges may impact the city’s status as a global financial hub and its ability to attract and retain top talent. As the town navigates these hurdles, it will be crucial to implement strategies that foster job creation and support the housing market.

Boston’s Population Drain and Lagging Home Values: Analyzing the Factors

Boston, renowned for its academic institutions and historical significance, has witnessed a 6% population decline in recent years. This decline can be attributed to various factors, including the high cost of living and limited job opportunities in specific sectors.

Furthermore, Boston’s home value growth has significantly lagged behind other cities, raising concerns about the stability of its housing market. As the city looks to the future, it must address these challenges head-on to maintain its appeal to new residents and businesses.

Detroit’s Struggle: Steep Population Loss and Slow Income Growth

Once the thriving heart of the American automotive industry, Detroit continues to face significant challenges. Between 2019 and 2022, the city experienced a substantial 7.4% population decline, exacerbating the ongoing struggle to revitalize its economy.

Detroit’s per capita income growth has also been sluggish, trailing 75% behind the national average. Despite these challenges, the city has made concerted efforts to attract new residents and investments through various initiatives and incentives.

However, the road to recovery is long and will require sustained commitment from the public and private sectors.

Chicago’s Troubles: Population Decline, Stagnant Home Values, and Crime Rates

In recent years, Chicago, the Windy City, has experienced a sizeable net population decline. This decline can be attributed to a combination of factors, including limited job opportunities, high cost of living, and concerns over public safety.

Chicago’s home value growth has also been slow, indicating a stagnant housing market that may deter potential homebuyers. Additionally, the city’s high homicide rates have cast a shadow over its reputation and livability.

Addressing these multifaceted issues will require a comprehensive approach that tackles crime, fosters economic growth, and improves residents’ overall quality of life.

Anchorage’s Steady Decline: Exploring the Reasons Behind the Population Loss

Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, has experienced a steady population decline since 2014. This trend can be attributed to various factors, including economic struggles and the unique challenges of living in a remote, cold-weather location.

As the city’s economy heavily relies on the oil and gas industry, fluctuations in global energy prices have significantly impacted job opportunities and overall economic stability. Moreover, the harsh climate and limited amenities may deter some individuals from settling in Anchorage long term.

Addressing these challenges will require diversifying the city’s economic base and investing in infrastructure and quality-of-life improvements.

Portland’s Recovery Challenges: Population Drop and Economic Slowdown Post-2020

Portland, Oregon, known for its vibrant culture and eco-friendly ethos, has encountered challenges recently. The city experienced a 3% population decline, which can be partially attributed to the social unrest that occurred in 2020.

The economic recovery following these events has been slow, impacting local businesses and residents. To bounce back, Portland must focus on rebuilding community trust, supporting small businesses, and fostering an inclusive environment that attracts new residents and encourages existing ones to stay.

Honolulu’s Economic Woes: Sluggish Growth Amidst a Tropical Paradise

Honolulu, the picturesque capital of Hawaii, faces economic challenges despite its idyllic location. The city has experienced slow population growth, attributed to the high cost of living and limited job opportunities outside the tourism sector.

As a result, Honolulu’s economy, which heavily relies on tourism, has been particularly vulnerable to external shocks such as the pandemic lockdowns. To ensure a more resilient future, the city must work towards diversifying its economy and creating affordable housing options for its residents.

Baton Rouge Faces Similar Issues: Economic and Population Declines in Louisiana

Baton Rouge, the capital city of Louisiana, shares many of the challenges faced by its larger counterpart, New Orleans. The city has experienced population declines and economic issues, which are symptomatic of the broader struggles faced by the state of Louisiana.

These challenges can be attributed to limited job opportunities, aging infrastructure, and vulnerability to natural disasters. To address these issues, Baton Rouge and Louisiana must focus on attracting new industries, investing in education and workforce development, and building resilient communities.


Several studies have provided valuable insights into the fastest-declining cities in the United States. While each city faces unique challenges, common threads emerge, such as population declines, economic struggles, and housing market woes.

As these cities navigate their respective difficulties, policymakers, community leaders, and residents must work together to develop comprehensive strategies that address the root causes of these declines.

By fostering economic growth, investing in infrastructure, and creating livable communities, these cities can begin to reverse the tide and build a more promising future for all their residents.