We all want to take pride in our town as being well-managed with above-average leadership. Yet, at the same time, we must be mindful to take into consideration what and how outsiders view us.
Frequently, The Wall Street Journal publishes a list ranking among other factors, the "50 Worst Places to Live in America". This report has been widely focused upon by major media the past week. I want to share just some highlights with you:
Anniston is ranked the 9th worst city in America to live. Anniston has the 4th highest crime rate in the nation. During the last reporting period, Anniston reported 3,434 violent crimes, 64 murders, 2,833 violent crimes, and 6,158 property crimes, per 100,000 population. Also contributing to the total ranking, an unemployment rate of 13.7 percent, median income of $32,070, average home value of $95,700, and a poverty rate of 29.5 percent.
Talladega, on the other hand, fortunately, did NOT make the national list of 50 worst places to live. Talladega, however, is listed as the 6th worst place in Alabama to live. Even with a roaring national economy under President Trump, Talladega is still at 17.9 percent unemployment. We report the poverty rate locally at 25.7%. Our average home value is at $84,500, with a median income of $29,755. The average residential rent is $535/month.
The most troubling factor about our area is crime. During the last reporting period, Talladega was ranked the 12th most dangerous city in Alabama. Contributing to this number is 885.6 violent crimes, 709 assaults, 5,411 property crimes and seven murders. All state data is based on reported crimes per 100,000 population.
So, what does this say about us? It is an understatement, obviously, to say we need improvement. We must keep in mind, these are the images we are presenting to the outside world. Can we improve on this data, you bet. There is always room for improvement. In 2019, we elect a new City Council and mayor. Let us pledge now to improve this report as we go to the polls.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, 24/7, Feb. 4, 2019; USA Today/Money, February 2019
James W. Anderson