While many of the very poorest places in the country are remote towns with populations of just a few thousand, there are plenty of large American cities among the nation’s poorest places. These cities have often been devastated for decades by deindustrialization and job losses. In these places, incomes are generally low, poverty rates are high, and many residents depend on government assistance to afford basic necessities.
Using median annual household income data from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey for all municipalities with populations greater than 25,000, 24/7 Wall St. identified the poorest city in every state. No cities within Vermont fit all inclusion criteria, so the state was excluded from the list.
At smaller population levels, there are places in every state where the typical household income is well below the national median of $65,712. However, when only looking at cities with populations of 25,000 or greater, the lowest-income city does not necessarily have considerably lower income than the national median, specifically in a few low-population states. Meanwhile, in more populous states, especially the low-income ones, the median household income is far below the national median. The median annual household income in the cities on this list ranges from over $60,000 to less than $25,000.
One factor that has a strong correlation with income in the United States is education. Americans with a bachelor’s degree are far less likely to be unemployed or earn lower incomes than Americans with lower levels of education. Nationwide, 31.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree. In the many of the places on this list, less than 20% of adults do. Incomes also tend to correlate with other factors, such as home values and poverty. The cities on this list tend to have very low median home values and very high poverty rates.
Click here to see the poorest city in every state.
Click here to see our methodology.
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