TIME cities

How Much It Costs for a Family to Live in 20 Major U.S. Cities

From Houston to New York

It will only cost you about $49,114 a year to raise a family in Morristown, Tennessee, but if you move to Washington, DC, that expense more that doubles, to $106,493.

That’s according to the Economic Policy Institute‘s 2015 Family Budget Calculator, which measures the annual cost of necessities for a family to live a secure yet modest lifestyle by estimating the costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, healthcare, other necessities, and taxes.

(Read the EPI’s full methodology for the budget calculator here.)

The EPI gathered data in 618 metro areas throughout the US for several different family types. Here, we’ve highlighted the cost of living for a four-person family (two adults, two children) in 20 major US cities.

If you’re looking to start a family in an urban area, consider the annual and monthly cost of necessities, and remember, these numbers do not include savings or discretionary spending.

  • Houston, Texas

    Houston Scenics
    Scott Halleran—Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $60,608

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,051

  • Cleveland, Ohio

    Cleveland Cityscapes And City Views
    Raymond Boyd—Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $60,900

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,075

  • Dallas, Texas

    America's Ninth Largest City Ahead Of GDP Figures
    Bloomberg/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $61,150

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,096

  • St. Louis, Missouri

    Gateway Arch
    G. Sioen—De Agostini/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $63,100

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,258

  • Atlanta, Georgia

    Atlanta skyline Georgia USA
    Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $63,888

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,324

  • Charlotte, North Carolina

    Democratic National Convention Committee Unveils Stage For DNC
    Streeter Lecka—Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $65,492

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,458

  • Portland, Oregon

    Santi Visalli—Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $67,802

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,650

  • Miami, Florida

    U.S. Travel, Tourism Exports In 2012 Reach $168 Billion
    Bloomberg/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $68,503

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,709

  • Sacramento, California

    George Rose—Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $69,296

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,775

  • Denver, Colorado

    DENVER, CO - APRIL 30: Denver Skyline as seen from the Cherry Creek Dam road in Denver, Colorado on April 30, 2015.  (Photo By Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post)
    Helen H. Richardson—The Denver Post/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $71,104

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $5,925

  • Chicago, Illinois

    Chicago Cityscapes And City Views
    Raymond Boyd—Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $71,995

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $6,000

  • Seattle, Washington

    Space Needle
    G. Sioen—De Agostini/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $72,274

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $6,023

  • Los Angeles, California

    Siqui Sanchez—Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $73,887

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $6,157

  • San Diego, California

    Scenic San Diego skyline, sailboat and waterfront, Pacific Ocean at sunset, California
    Education Images/UIG/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $74,425

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $6,202

  • Baltimore, Maryland

    US Coast Guard sailing ship Eagle departs Baltimore harbor, Maryland
    Education Images/UIG/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $74,427

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $6,202

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Views Of Pennsylvania's Largest City
    Bloomberg/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $76,393

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $6,366

  • Boston, Massachusetts

    Colorful docked sailboats and Boston Skyline in winter on half frozen Charles River, Massachusetts
    Education Images/UIG/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $85,793

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $7,149

  • San Francisco, California

    Residential Real Estate As City Becomes The Least Affordable U.S. Housing Market
    Bloomberg/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $91,785

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $7,649

  • New York, New York

    NY Skyline, Freedom Tower
    Education Images/UIG/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $98,722

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $8,227

  • Washington, D.C.

    Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

    Estimated cost of annual necessities: $106,493

    Estimated cost of monthly necessities: $8,874

    This article originally appeared on Business Insider

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TIME cities

Colorado’s Marijuana Industry Sparks Warehouse Space Crunch

“It’s all just getting snatched up by these marijuana people”

As Colorado’s marijuana industry lights up, warehouse space is becoming a hot commodity in its capital city.

The state, which legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012, saw legal sales approach $700 million last year, the Wall Street Journal reports. But growing and storing all that marijuana requires a lot of physical space, and that could be a problem for Denver, which is a major hub for companies shipping and storing goods between southern California and Kansas City.

Some companies looking to upgrade their square footage have had a difficult time finding affordable space. “It’s all just getting snatched up by these marijuana people,” Steve Badgley, chief executive of Colorado Specialties Corp, told the Journal.

As much as a third of new warehouse space in Colorado in the past 18 months has been leased to marijuana distributors and growers, according to real-estate firm Cresa Partners. In the state’s warehouse market, rental rates rose 10 percent last year and buying costs have doubled since since the start of last year, according to figures from another firm, CBRE.

“It seems like every warehouse from 8,000 to 20,000 square feet is being turned into an indoor marijuana farm,” Tom Glaspern, managing director in Denver for SEKO Logistics, said. “We had opportunities [with customers] last year that we just had to turn down because we didn’t have the space.”

[Wall Street Journal]


Federal Government Says It’s Unconstitutional to Ban Sleeping in Public

homeless sleeping
Getty Images

Such bans could violate citizens' Eighth Amendment rights

The U.S. Department of Justice says that banning people from sleeping in public could be a violation of their constitutional rights.

The Washington Post delved deep into a statement of interest filed by the Justice Department in a case out of Boise, Idaho. In Boise, lawmakers enacted a ban on sleeping in public—something the Justice Department says could be in violation of a person’s Eighth Amendment Rights.

“Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity — i.e., it must occur at some time in some place,” the Justice Department argues. “If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”

The strong statement comes amid a flurry of laws that ban sleeping or camping in public, even as shelters across the U.S. struggle to maintain enough beds to shelter those without a place to call home.

Read more at the Washington Post

TIME georgia

Georgia Police Reserve Parking Spots for Safe Craigslist Transactions

Liz Reeder—Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Douglas County Sheriff's Office has reserved parking spots for people to safely make online transactions

A Georgia county sheriff’s office has set aside four parking spots for residents who want to make safe online sales.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia announced on Tuesday that they have reserved the parking spots—right outside the police force’s office—for people who are worried about safety when they meet someone that they are buying things from or selling things to online.

The officers recommend that meetings are made during daylight hours. People can also call the police communications division and request that a deputy be present during the transaction.

The Georgia officers are not the first to create a safe place for residents to meet buyers and sellers from online marketplaces. Cops in the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken began offering locations in their parking lot and lobby for such business in October 2014. Similar measures have been taken in other cities.

TIME cities

What’s Changed in Ferguson a Year After Michael Brown—and What Hasn’t

Looking back on the anniversary of a deadly shooting

Sunday marks one year since white former police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., sparking weeks of often-violent protest and a still-running national debate about race and police use-of-force.

A grand jury opted not to indict Wilson, who recently gave his first extensive interview in months, saying he’s “not going to keep living in the past.” Activists are using the anniversary weekend to stage what they promise will be peaceful protests and vigils. Police are on alert for any sign that the anniversary could bring renewed violence.

But as the town tries to move on, what has changed and what hasn’t? Here’s a where-are-they-now guide to some of the people and issues on the ground.

Darren Wilson

Wilson, no longer with the police force, lives somewhere in St. Louis County. His exact location remains a closely-guarded secret amid continuing threats. Supporters have raised more than $500,000 for his legal defense and protection, but Wilson still hasn’t been able to find work, according to a profile in The New Yorker. “It’s too hot an issue, so it makes me unemployable,” he told the magazine.

A grand jury declined to indict him in the shooting, and federal investigators cleared him of any wrongdoing under federal law.

The people in charge

Michael Brown’s death briefly turned a number of city and state officials into household names. A year later, some remain in office after surviving the tumult of a national spotlight. Others have resigned and disappeared.

Captain Ron Johnson, who rose to prominence as an official face of calm amidst the tensions, remains in his position at the Missouri State Highway Patrol. County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, criticized for his handling of the grand jury process, also remains in his position.

Other law enforcement officials have had a tougher time keeping their jobs. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, for instance, has withstood countless calls for his resignation and even a recall campaign. Knowles said he would remain in his position to continue “bringing us together, moving us forward.”

But Thomas Jackson, the Ferguson Police Chief, resigned following a scathing federal report. He said the city needed “to move forward without any distractions.” Other Ferguson police officers and city officials also resigned after the Justice Department report found they had sent racist emails.

The investigations

The Department of Justice launched two separate investigations following the shooting. The first, conducted in coordination with the FBI, investigated the shooting itself and whether Wilson’s decision to shoot Brown violated federal civil rights law. That investigation, which concluded in March, corroborated Wilson’s account of the incident and cleared him of any legal or civil rights violations.

The second investigation, which also concluded in March, looked at the Ferguson Police Department’s practices more broadly. Federal authorities found patterns of racial bias that included unwarranted arrests of blacks and use of excessive force. The city has since been in negotiations with the Justice Department to enter into a so-called consent decree, which would create formal guidelines for reform.

The local economy

Many local businesses boarded up in the weeks and months following the fiercest riots, but hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from local business development groups has kept most from closing permanently. They may not be flourishing, but they are surviving. In the first weeks following the clashes between protesters and police, the St. Louis Regional Business Council offered interest-free grants to dozens of local businesses, said Kathy Osborn, the group’s executive director—places like bakeries, restaurants and flower shops that might have otherwise closed their doors.

While small businesses may be getting by, the local government faces tough choices thanks to a sharp decline in revenue. Income from tickets—the DOJ report found systemic targeting of minorities as a means of raising revenue—is expected to fall by $1 million from the 2013-2014 budget to the 2014-2015 budget. The city’s total operating budget is about $14 million, Reuters reports.

TIME Crime

Homicides Are Spiking This Year After Falling for Decades

A study says homicide rates are down. But 2015 rates—especially for gun violence—are very different.

Since 1960, U.S. homicide rates have been falling—that is, until this year. Meanwhile, intimate-partner violence and child abuse affect up to 12 million and 10 million Americans, respectively, according to a survey released Tuesday in JAMA. Taken together, it paints a bleak picture for Americans’ safety, and it has violence prevention scholars trying to figure out what led to the changes—and when.

At the annual meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Monday, police chiefs grappled with the fact that some cities are seeing a 50% increase in murders compared with last year. Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier pointed to the nation’s capital as an example: This time last year, D.C. had 69 homicides; this year, D.C. has seen at 87 homicides. Nearby Baltimore tallied 42 homicides in May alone, with 45 in July. And in Chicago, there have been 243 homicides this year so far—a 20% spike from last year.

Until 2012, “we saw decreases for homicide and aggravated assault,” says Dr. Debra Houry, a co-author of the JAMA study who works with the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “It’s promising because it shows that violence is preventable.”

Homicide rates in 1980 stood at 10.7 per 100,000; by 2013, they’d been cut in half. Aggravated assault saw a similar halving of incidences between 1992 and 2012.

But Andrew Papachristos, a professor of sociology at Yale and a criminal justice expert who has focused much of his research on Chicago’s gang and gun violence, says that JAMA‘s findings may not offer a nuanced enough picture of what’s going on in the United States, because it looks at general trends across the country. While on average crime might have fallen until to this year, some cities, such as Chicago and Milwaukee, are still facing severe problems with violence, particularly in certain areas of the city. Indeed, within cities, “the rates of violence across neighborhoods can be exponentially higher in certain areas and almost zero in others,” he says.

Policy changes can make a difference, says Papachristos. Programs that aim to decrease unemployment, particularly among African Americans, is a critical policy adjustment, he says, since unemployment is correlated with gun violence. He also cites outdated gun laws as part of the problem.

One policy bright spot was found in a study released by the American Journal of Public Health earlier this summer, which looked at Connecticut’s permit-to-purchase handgun law as a case study. The law dates to 1994 and it requires gunowners to purchase a license prior to acquiring a handgun. The state would only allow people to buy guns if they passed a background check and gun-safety course. The result? Connecticut residents can credit the law for a 40% reduction in gun-related homicides. (Of course, in a dreary statistic that illustrates Papachristos’ point, it’s not down everywhere in the state; Hartford is experiencing a massive surge in gun violence this year.)

But even with some signs of promise, any changes to law or policy might come too late for many victims of American crime this year. Criminal justice expert Rod Wheeler told Fox that America is snowballing into the most violent summer the country has seen in decades.

“I said this back in June, that we’re going to have a long, hot, bloody summer,” he said. “And unfortunately, it’s coming to pass.”

TIME Travel

These Are America’s Most Charming Cities

These cities are sure to captivate your heart and soul

To find the heart of New York City, you need the right shoes.

“I always seek out a city’s charms on foot,” says Rachel Rudman, co-creator of the travel series How 2 Travelers. In the Big Apple, she says, walking gives her the thrill of “moving through a sea of people who are drastically different from one another, yet all working to make a life in the city,” while in Charleston, “every main street, alleyway and market feels as though it holds centuries of stories.”

Travel+Leisure readers would agree, placing both New York City and Charleston in the top 10 of uniquely charming cities. In this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers voted on dozens of features that make 38 cities special, from museums to bakeries and flea markets. To highlight the most bewitching cities, we combined the rankings for interesting architecture, pedestrian-friendly streets, quaint bookstores, a sense of history and a friendly atmosphere—and nice wine bars didn’t hurt, either.

Several winners had one thing in common: old neighborhoods that have found new life, with cobblestone streets as well as cool shops and little cafes. Otherwise, in some winning cities, charm means easy access to public art, or food truck pods where locals gather around the fire pit with guitars. One cozy city even has a self-proclaimed “snuggery.”

With most the winners, too, those walkable streets are key—assuming you stray off the tourist grid. Barri Bronston, author of Walking New Orleans, advises Crescent City visitors to do Bourbon Street once—then move on. “Take the Bywater neighborhood,” she says, “with its houses painted in vibrant purples, oranges, and blues. Until I walked its streets, I had no idea how cool it really was. I’m a life-long resident of New Orleans, but I always feel like I’m discovering something new.”

  • No. 20 Baltimore

    Philip Scalia / Alamy

    The town that dubbed itself Charm City—granted, as a long-ago marketing strategy—clearly has planted its flag in the charming top 20. (That flag may be a freak flag, though: the locals also made the top 10 for being offbeat.) Baltimore also scored in the top 10 for historic appeal—like Fell’s Point, the waterfront community that that was once the nation’s second-largest immigration point, after Ellis Island. To experience the neighborhood to the fullest, stay at boutique hotel Admiral Fell Inn (once the home of the Seamen’s YMCA) and enjoy one the city’s highly ranked dive bars, The Horse You Came In On—which was likely a dive even when it first opened in 1775.

  • No. 19 Pittsburgh

    JP Diroll

    Pittsburgh’s most charming area does not ignore the Rust Belt’s industrial roots—instead, it embraces it. Just north of downtown, the Strip District was once the home of Andrew Carnegie’s first mills as well as the nerve center of the city’s produce markets. Today, it’s the home of the Pittsburgh Public Market, Pittsburgh Opera and the modern-dance Attack Theatre. The city also ranked at No. 6 for its pizza, like the classic Neapolitan at Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square and downtown’s Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room. Charming or not, the locals won the survey for being the most enthusiastic sports fans.

  • No. 18 Seattle


    Even if it’s a first stop for many tourists, nothing exudes the charm of Seattle—and can make you feel like a flowers-and-fruit-buying local—quite like wandering the 9-acre Pike Place Market. But a block or so away from the market’s salmon-tossing workers, the charm factor compounds on Post Alley; the brick-paved detour features spots like The Pink Door, which serves candlelit Italian cuisine and quirky live shows like Eastern European jazz and trapeze acts. Seattle also came in at No. 2 for its coffee: one of the most relaxing places to enjoy it is at the café in the Elliott Bay Book Store, where you can also see why the charmingly rainy city ranked at No. 3 for its bookstores.

  • No. 17 Cleveland

    ThisIsCleveland.com / Cody York

    Forget the old jokes about this industrial town, which has elegantly cultivated its old-school charms. The nerve center of its appeal is in the Victorian-era Tremont neighborhood, once settled by immigrants and now home to Prosperity Social Club, a lounge set in a former ballroom, which has craft beer, Polka music and pierogies. To embrace the city’s civic pride, pick up a t-shirt that reads “Buck Yes” or “I Liked Cleveland Before It Was Cool” at downtown’s CLE Clothing.

  • No. 16 Atlanta

    Courtesy of Krog Street Market/Little Tart Bakeshop

    Readers love Atlanta for deftly walking the line between historic charm and buzz-worthy cool. You’ll find both at the Swan House in Buckhead’s Atlanta History Center: you can chat with costumed character guides at the 1920s mansion’s Open House tours—or, you can take its Capitol Tour, and see how the house was used in the film The Hunger Games. The Georgia hub also worked its way into readers’ hearts by way of their stomachs, ranking at No. 2 for Southern-comfort diners: At Buckhead’s old-style Highland Bakery, for instance, you can tuck into both sweet-potato pancakes and sweet-potato biscuits. Another heartwarming touch: at downtown’s Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the hostess still offers free back rubs at your table.

  • No. 15 Philadelphia


    Quaint streets all over the U.S. don’t have much on Elfreth’s Alley, the tiny cobblestone road in Philly that boasts of being the oldest continuously lived-on street in the nation (you can tour the old homes once a year, on June’s Fete Day). Beyond that one street, though, the cradle of democracy gets high marks from readers for being both historic and pleasantly accessible—like the Society Hill and the Rittenhouse areas, offering gracefully restored lodgings like Rittenhouse 1715. Even some newer places can’t resist a little old-style appeal—like Random Tea Room in the Northern Liberties area, which features a Curiosity Shop of antiques alongside a 21st-century massage room.

  • No. 14 Albuquerque

    Raymond Watt

    The New Mexico city made the top 10 for festivals, thanks to lovely parties like October’s International Balloon Fiesta. But this farm-friendly town also wooed readers with its literal cornucopia of edible delights: Casa Rondeña Winery, for instance, has wine-growing roots that go back to the 1600s. For down-to-earth lodging, stay at the 25-acre Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, whose crops include lavender, casaba melons and endangered Chimaya chilies. The city also ranked near the top for being affably kooky, like Albuquerque Alpacas’ charming sweaters, socks and dyed yarns (as well as plenty of live, fleece-producing alpacas).

  • No. 13 Nashville

    Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation

    Music City’s magnetism comes in part from its people: it ranked at the top of the survey for friendly locals. But its revamped older neighborhoods let this city of music-industry high rollers keeps its homey vibe. In the 12 South neighborhood, for instance, you can wander the bungalow-lined streets, browse in boutiques likeWhite’s Mercantile (offering such down-home delights as locally sourced grits and biscuit mix) or sit at coffeehouse-and-wine-barFrothy Monkey, where you can sip your Merlot from a quaint jelly jar. 12 South is also home to some of the city’s highly ranked barbecue: Edley’s Bar-B-Que, which smokes its brisket and ribs using local White Oak wood.

  • No. 12 Houston

    Courtesy of Sara's Inn

    The quaint factor in this giant business hub may not be immediately obvious, but voters still applauded the city on a variety of civilized features, from its top-ranked gourmet groceries, like Revival Market, to museums like the soothing Rothko Chapel. To get a sense of the city from earlier (and smaller) times, go to the Historic Heights neighborhood, which is filled with homes from the 1800s, some lovely inns (like the restored, Queen Anne-style Sara’s Inn on the Boulevard) and cheeky establishments like Mighty Sweet Mini Pies and Alice’s Tall Texan (where a 20-ounce Lone Star beer, served in a frosty goblet, goes for just $2.50). Indeed, the Texas city also ranked in the top 10 for both bakeries and brews.

  • No. 11 San Francisco

    11-san francisco
    Stanislav Volik / Alamy

    The City by the Bay can be one giant photo op, with such iconic charmers as the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, and Alamo Square’s Painted Ladies. But if you want to spend a charming afternoon alongside the gourmand locals, browse the stalls at the Ferry Building Marketplace and its Saturday farmers market, or, sit at Caffe Trieste with a classic cappuccino and see why, even before the thoughtfully-made pour-overs of Blue Bottle and Ritual Roasters, the city has always been a winner for its coffee culture. Despite its chilly summers, San Francisco also made the top 20 for weather—proof that rolling fog offers plenty of atmospheric charm.

    Read the full list here. This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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Boston Mayor Threatens to Drop Olympics Bid Over Budget

at UMass Campus Center on March 22, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Paul Marotta—Getty Images Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh hosts a Municipal Strategies for Financial Empowerment, a public forum at UMass Campus Center on March 22, 2015 in Boston.

“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away"

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh threatened Monday to drop the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games if the U.S. Olympic Committee demands a guarantee that would require Boston taxpayers to cover budgetary shortfalls.

Walsh said that while he believes the Olympics could benefit the city, he vowed not to sign an agreement without knowing there are taxpayer protections in place, Boston.com reports.

“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away,” Walsh said at a news conference. “I refuse to put Boston on the hook for overruns, and I refuse to commit to signing a guarantee that uses taxpayers’ dollars to pay for the Olympics.”

The host city contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee would require the city to agree to cover any financial shortfalls in building the massive infrastructure around the 2024 games. Massachusetts’ governor, Charlie Baker has also expressed skepticism of a bid that shifts the burden of paying for Olympics infrastructure too heavily on Boston taxpayers.

The USOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


TIME cities

These 9 U.S. Cities Are Running Out of Water

These areas that have been under persistent, serious drought conditions over the first half of 2015

The nine cities with the worst drought conditions in the country are all located in California, which is now entering its fourth consecutive year of drought as demand for water is at an all-time high. The long-term drought has already had dire consequences for the state’s agriculture sector, municipal water systems, the environment, and all other water consumers.

Based on data provided by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collaboration between academic and government organizations, 24/7 Wall St. identified nine large U.S. urban areas that have been under persistent, serious drought conditions over the first six months of this year. The Drought Monitor classifies drought by five levels of intensity: from D0, described as abnormally dry, to D4, described as exceptional drought. Last year, 100% of California was under at least severe drought conditions, or D2, for the first time since Drought Monitor began collecting data. It was also the first time that exceptional drought — the highest level — had been recorded in the state. This year, 100% of three urban areas in the state are in a state of exceptional drought. And 100% of all nine areas reviewed are in at least extreme drought, or D3.

Click here to see the 9 cities with the worst drought.

According to Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), California has a Mediterranean climate in which the vast majority of precipitation falls during the six month period from October through March. In fact, more than 80% of California’s rainfall is during the cold months. As a result, “it’s very difficult to get significant changes in the drought picture during the warm season,” Rippey said. He added that even when it rains during the summer, evaporation due to high temperatures largely offsets any accumulation.

A considerable portion of California’s environmental, agricultural, and municipal water needs depends on 161 reservoirs, which are typically replenished during the winter months. As of May 31, the state’s reservoirs added less than 6.5 million acre-feet of water over the winter, 78% of the typical recharge of about 8.2 million acre-feet. A single acre-foot contains more than 325,000 gallons of water. This was the fourth consecutive year that reservoir recharge failed to breach the historical average.

Normally, current reservoir levels are high enough to buffer against drought. However, “after four years of drought, reservoir holdings are perilously low,” said Rippey. Current total storage levels are at about 17.2 million acre-feet. The typical annual withdrawal is around 8 million acre-feet, which means total storage may fall below 10 million acre-feet by the end of the summer. This also means there is little room for error if the state enters a fifth year of drought.

In addition to surface water, groundwater is a major water source for the state, particularly during periods of drought. According to a recent U.C. Davis analysis of the California drought from 2012 through 2014, groundwater may replace as much as 75% of surface water lost to dry conditions this year. As Rippey explained, however, the problem is that the amount of groundwater is unknown. “The monitoring system for groundwater is not nearly as robust as the surface water monitoring system,” Rippey said.

City and state officials have reacted to the long-term drought by imposing various water restrictions. According to the California Department of Water Resources, California declared a statewide emergency during the 2007-2009 California drought — the first in U.S. history. California declared another such emergency during the 2012-2014 drought, and statewide precipitation was the driest three-year period on record. In an attempt to curb water use, statewide regulations impose penalties for exceeding water consumption budgets. Using water on lawns, for car washes, or to clean driveways is banned or restricted in each of the nine cities.

There are also economic consequences. The U.C. Davis study estimated a loss of at least 410,000 acres of farmland due to water shortages in California’s Central Valley, one of the nation’s most important agricultural zones and the location of most of the cities running out of water. An estimated $800 million was lost in farm revenue last year. That total does not include $447 million in extra pumping costs sustained by the Central Valley. Researchers at U.C. Davis estimated a total statewide revenue loss of $2.2 billion, and more than 17,000 jobs lost in 2014 due to drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the USDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 24/7 Wall St. identified the nine urban areas with populations of 75,000 or more where the highest percentages of the land area was in a state of exceptional drought in the first six months of 2015. All data are as of the week ending June 2.

These are the nine cities running out of water.

  • 9. Bakersfield, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015):72.8%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 523,994

    Over the first half of this year, nearly 73% of Bakersfield was in a state of exceptional drought, the ninth largest percentage compared with all large U.S. urban areas. The possible impacts of exceptional drought include widespread crop failures and reservoir and stream depletions, which can result in water emergencies. The drought in Bakersfield has improved somewhat from the same period last year, when nearly 90% of the area was in a state of exceptional drought — the highest in the nation at that time. Like many other areas in California, however, Bakersfield has suffered through more than four years of drought, and any improvement is likely negligible. The Isabella Reservoir on the Kern River is one of the larger reservoirs in the state with a capacity of 568,000 acre-feet. The reservoir has supplied water to Bakersfield since 1953. Today, Isabella’s water level is at less than 8% of its full capacity after falling dramatically each summer since 2011.

    ALSO READ: The Best and Worst States to Be Unemployed

  • 8. Sacramento, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015): 78.3%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 1,723,634

    Sacramento is the most populous city running out of water, with 1.72 million residents. The city is located just north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a major source of water not just for Sacramento residents but for a great deal of California. The delta also helps provide water to millions of acres of California farmland. The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers supply nearly 80 California reservoirs. With the ongoing drought, current storage levels are well below historical averages. On average over the first half of this year, exceptional drought covered more than 78% of Sacramento. The remaining area is far from drought-free, as 100% of Sacramento was in a state of extreme drought over that period — like every other city on this list.

  • 7. Chico, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015): 85.3%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 98,176

    Starting in June this year, new state legislation requires Chico residents to consume 32% less water than they did in 2013. Water bills now include water budgeting information and penalizes residents with higher fees based on how much consumption exceeds the recommended amount. The new rule may be a challenge for some residents, as Chico had among the highest per capita daily water consumption in the state in 2013, according to the ChicoER, a local news outlet. According to The Weather Channel, in April of this year a jet stream shift brought rain and snow to parts of Northern California where Chico is located, a welcome relief to the area’s long-running dry spell. Despite the short-term relief, Chico still suffers from drought — an average of more than 85% of the city was in a state of exceptional drought over the first half of this year.

  • 6. Lancaster-Palmdale, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015): 87.9%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 341,219

    Compared to the first half of last year, drought conditions in Lancaster-Palmdale are worse this year. Last year, nearly 80% of the city was in extreme drought and just 10% in exceptional drought. This year, 100% of the city was classified as being in a state of extreme drought and nearly 88% in exceptional drought. Many Lancaster-Palmdale residents, particularly those in the Palmdale Water District, receive their water from the district’s water wells, the Littlerock Dam, or — like many Californians — the California Aqueduct. The Colorado River Basin is also a major water source for the region, including Las Vegas to the northeast of Lancaster-Palmdale and Los Angeles to the southwest. Rippey explained that with only three or four wet years in over a decade, the Colorado River Basin region has endured a staggering near 15-year drought. The river, which used to flow into the ocean, now ends in Mexico. Like every other city suffering the most from drought, Lancaster-Palmdale residents are subject to various water restrictions.

  • 5. Yuba City, CA

    > Exceptional drought coverage (first half of 2015): 95.4%
    > Extreme drought coverage (first half of 2015): 100%
    > Population: 116,719

    Yuba City is located on the Feather River, which runs south through Sacramento. The river begins at Lake Oroville, the site of the Oroville Dam and the source of the California Aqueduct — also known as the State Water Project (SWP). The dam’s water levels reached a record low in November 2014. While water levels have increased considerably since then, they remain at a fraction of the reservoir’s capacity. More than 95% of Yuba City was in a state of exceptional drought over the first six months of the year, making it one of only five urban areas to have exceptional drought covering more than 90% of their land area. Like other areas suffering the most from drought, the proportion of Yuba’s workforce employed in agricultural jobs is several times greater than the national proportion. The drought has had considerable economic consequences in the region. Agricultural employment dropped 30.3% from 2012 through 2013, versus the nearly 2% nationwide growth.

    ALSO READ: The Poorest Town in Each State

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