Pueblo Ranked Among Worst Cities To Live In U.S., Local Officials Disagree

A recent report ranks Pueblo as one of the worst cities in the country to live in. The study was done by New York-based 24/7 Wall Street. Results were based on quality of life factors like crime, the economy and education. Out of the 50 cities ranked, Pueblo came in 17th.

Jeff Shaw, President of the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation, says the report leaves a lot to be desired.

“Unfortunately, when people put those type of studies together, a majority of the time they never spend any time in the community to look at it and get a feel for what the community is really about and I think it can do a disservice," Shaw explains.

Shaw says Pueblo sometimes gets a bad rap, despite many positives.

"I think you talk to any of the manufacturers that we have in the community that we've brought in that have been around for a long time, they will tell you that they have moved their employees and their staff and are here for a reason," he says. "And they like it here. They feel safe here. They enjoy Pueblo being a great place to run their business and raise their family."

Pueblo is the only Colorado city included in the ranking. According to the report, the outcomes were determined using "quantifiable factors that can impact quality of life in a given area." Examples given include affordability, safety, job market strength, quality of education, infrastructure, average commute times, air quality, and the presence of cultural attractions.

Bob Schilling serves on the Pueblo City Council. He says he doesn’t put much stock in the report’s analysis. 

"I guess if Pueblo was a bad place to live there would really be a flood of leaving. Maybe the best reaction to that article is, look at the new companies that have been willing to come in here in the last few years and how they've all expanded," Schilling says.

According to the report, Pueblo has the lowest median income of any city in Colorado. The typical household earns just $38,380 a year, and one in four people live below the poverty line. The report claims there were 980 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2016, the worst violent crime rate of any city in the state and nearly triple Colorado's violent crime rate. Shaw argues those results can be skewed depending on how police departments report incidents of crime. 

"As an economic development professional, we obviously are concerned about crime. Anybody would be. There are certain pockets of the community in Pueblo that entertain a little higher crime rate than other pockets, but I don't think that's any more unique than other communities. I feel safe walking downtown Pueblo at ten o clock at night, probably safer than I would feel in a major population," he explains.

Shaw says through his work with the Economic Development Corporation, he's confident that the community is moving in the right direction.

"Our unemployment rate is low; our labor participation rate is good," he explains. "Our unemployment rate typically clips a little bit higher than the rest of the state, but we're getting as close to full employment as you can get. The housing market is really strong."

And to Shaw's point, in 2013 Pueblo was named as one of America's best places to live by a separate group, livability.com.

"During the year it seems like you run across 20-30 of these types of publications where people—who are outside of the community—using whatever reference material [they choose] to come up with, make a list of rankings," he explains. "Whether it's by crime or most affordable...we try to pay attention to them to some degree, but a lot of the time we disagree with them when they come out."

City Council member Bob Schilling echoed Shaw's sentiments.

"My final thing is to tell people to come here and find out that it's not true," he says. "Come down here and walk the Riverwalk and go out to the reservoir. Go to the zoo and through the parks.'

Detroit was ranked the overall worst city in the United States to live. No one from 24/7 Wall Street was available to comment for this story.