These Are The 10 Laziest Cities in America

We used data and science to determine which major US metros are total couch potatoes.

Chris Kolmarby Chris KolmarRankings - 2 years ago

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Ah, the American Dream: Working hard day in and day out to save up enough money to one day buy that little house, with the white picket fence, and maybe even throw a kid or two into the mix. It sounds just lovely—until you calculate the amount of work that you’ll have to do just to stick that first white picket post into the ground.

Listen, I’m not saying that hard work isn’t valuable—when you’re passionate about something, by all means, work your butt off. But what about those folks who don’t value busting their rumps in the same way that society tells us we should? You know—the lazy people?

Well, turns out there are plenty of them in this hard-working country, as well. In fact, these 10 cities are the very laziest of them all:

  1. Dayton, OH
  2. Toledo, OH
  3. Springfield, MA
  4. Rochester, NY
  5. Syracuse, NY
  6. Cleveland, OH
  7. Akron, OH
  8. Buffalo, NY
  9. Rockford, IL
  10. Detroit, MI

Now don’t exert the effort to make a nasty comment or anything—like I was saying in the beginning, there is nothing wrong with being “lazy.” In fact, in other cultures, you might well just have your priorities in line.

But in order to come up with this list, we of course needed to not be lazy about our methodology.

How We Determined the Laziest Cities in America

We used the latest version of the American Community Survey from the Census Bureau. Lucky for us, the Bureau just released the 2010-2014 5-Yr Estimate, which makes our analysis the first of its kind with the new data.

After scrolling through what seemed like hundreds of criteria, we settled on this set for the laziest cities in the U.S.:

  • Lowest average hours worked
  • Shortest commute time
  • Fewest workers per household (Labor force divided by the number of households)
  • Highest unemployment rate
  • Fewest adults with a college degree

Our thinking went something along the lines of if you don’t bother to go college, don’t spend any time at work, and have only one person per household bringing home the bacon, your city is probably pretty lazy. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Once we gathered our data for 200 cities, we ranked each with scores from 1 to 200.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each to create a lazy index.

And finally, we crowned the place with the lowest lazy index the “Laziest City in America.” Here’s to you, Dayton City.

You can check out the chart at the end of the post for a more detailed look at our rankings, otherwise, let’s dive in to our top 10. But, hey—don’t over exert yourself.

1. Dayton, OH

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 141,776
College Educated: 16.7%
Unemployment Rate: 16.7%

Life in Dayton sounds like a dream—at first. Yes, workers there only spend an average of 34 hours per week on the job (as opposed to the average 40 or even more in some places), the commute isn’t terrible (20 minutes), plus, it’s the famous birthplace of aviation! Which, sure, doesn’t have anything to do with this, but it’s pretty cool.

Unfortunately, though, Dayton has a pretty high unemployment rate—the sixth highest in the country, in fact—and has one of the lowest numbers of workers per household around. Oof.

2. Toledo, OH

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 283,932
College Educated: 17.7%
Unemployment Rate: 15.3%

Poor Ohio—getting the first two of our ten laziest cities. (And that’s not all.)

So what is the deal with Toledo, then? Why did it make our list? Honestly, it’s mostly due to the unemployment rate—it’s the 14th highest of the cities we looked at. There are also fewer workers per household here, working fewer hours per week (an average of 36.4 hours.)

But hey—at least for those of you with jobs, you get a shorter work week! More free time! (Silver linings, guys.)

3. Springfield, MA

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 153,836
College Educated: 17.9%
Unemployment Rate: 15.4%

With an average of 35.9 hours worked per week, Springfield ranked as one of the worst (or best, depending on how you look at it) in this category. On the bright side, the commute of 21 minutes gives them just a little bit of less-than-lazy-street-cred, as we figure, sitting in your car to get someplace takes dedication! Determination! Or—just a lot of patience.

Either way, good job on that commute, Springfield. Maybe you can use it to peruse the classifieds for new jobs—or new homes (in other cities.)

4. Rochester, NY

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 210,461
College Educated: 24.4%
Unemployment Rate: 13.9%

What? What’s this? Not Rochester—the recent winner of the “most liveable city” award by Places Rated Almanac, surely? Not one of the best places to live and raise a family in 2010, as ranked by Forbes?

Yes, yes, that’s the one. Unfortunately, it seems times, they are a changin’ in Rochester—because these days, the city’s unemployment rate has gone up, and the average hours worked as gone down. It also has some of the fewest workers per household (the seventh fewest in the country).

5. Syracuse, NY

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 144,648
College Educated: 26%
Unemployment Rate: 12.5%

Another for the Empire State? Did you guys put all of your hustle and bustle into New York City and forget to distribute it to the rest of the state? Kidding.

But for real—with an average of just 35.3 hours worked per week, Syracuse is the lazyman’s dream come true. Not only that, but the unemployment rate isn’t that bad (it ranked at No. 50 here). This, plus a short average commute time means one thing: Syracuse seems to be lazy, not because of a bad economy, but by choice. And that, is excellent.

6. Cleveland, OH

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 392,114
College Educated: 15.2%
Unemployment Rate: 19.1%

Surely we’re done with the Ohio cities now. Surely, the state couldn’t… Oh wait. There’s one more.

As far as Cleveland goes, though, it came up on our list for a couple of very big reasons: the number of workers per household and the unemployment rate. Oh, and the percent of college-educated residents. Okay, so a few big reasons. It had the fewest workers per household in the country, the second highest unemployment rate, and just 15.2 percent of residents got their degree.

7. Akron, OH

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 198,492
College Educated: 20.5%
Unemployment Rate: 14%

Okay, now this is the last city from Ohio on our list. The reasons Akron made the top 10… were many, unfortunately. But the two big ones were its low number of workers per household and the unemployment rate—the 20th highest out of 200 cities in the country.

So if you’re looking for a city where you can, you know, not work and fit right in—Akron might be the one for you.

8. Buffalo, NY

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 259,959
College Educated: 24.7%
Unemployment Rate: 12.5%

Ah, the Queen City. The Nickel City. The City of Good Neighbors. Or, less commonly known, one of the Laziest Cities in America. Buffalo—the third New York city on our list—comes in at No. 8 simply because, well, people there are lazy.

No, I’m kidding—not everyone in Buffalo is lazy. But it does have the fewest number of workers per household in our top 10, and the second fewest out of the 200 places we looked at. These folks also spend an average of 36 hours per week on the job. Which honestly… all sounds pretty good.

Good job, Buffalo.

9. Rockford, IL

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 151,290
College Educated: 21%
Unemployment Rate: 15.5%

Here’s the thing: Rockford residents aren’t that lazy. Well, for the most part. I mean, the hours worked per week (37.4) isn’t that low; the commute (20 minutes) isn’t too much of a breeze; and the college graduation rate… Well, at least some of these guys went to college.

But where it really got hit in our rankings was for its unemployment rate—at 15.5, it’s the 11th highest out of 200 cities. So sure, Rockford is lazy. It just may not be by choice.

10. Detroit, MI

Laziest Cities in America

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 695,437
College Educated: 13.1%
Unemployment Rate: 27%

Oh, Detroit, you have gotten a bad rap in recent years. So we’ll cut you a break. Just kidding.

Here’s the good news: Detroit residents have a helluva commute time—an average of 27 minutes—which gave them a few anti-lazy points in our calculation. Here’s the bad news: it ranked among the top 15 in every other category—especially dismal was its unemployment rate. The highest in the country.

But hey… at least if you are working in Detroit, you’re working an average of just 36 hours per week…?

That’s Just Science

Sure, coming up with a list of laziest places might be something of a subjective matter—at least most of the time. With the right criteria and a little research*, though, we’ve come up with a list of laziest cities that is not just objective, but accurate. And that’s just science.

*Lazy folks – don’t try this at home. It requires time and energy, probably much better spent doing nothing. For real.

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