The 10 Poorest Cities In The United States For 2022

We used science and data to determine where the poorest 1% live in America.

RoadSnacks is reader-supported. When you click through real estate links on our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

America is pretty diverse. There’s rich people, poor people, and in-between people (most of us)

Even within a major city, you can turn a corner and go from nice to blight in less than a block.

We’re not judging. We’re just being observant is all.

But where do you go if you want to see the poorest people in the nation? We’re not talking about individuals. We mean, specifically, which parts of the country.

The general assumption is going to be large city centers with a lot of blight and crime. Yes, we took that into account, but you also have to assume the poorest cities in America are going to be where people don’t have jobs, and where people who DO have jobs earn meager salaries – at least for the most part.

So, what’s the poorest big city in America according to the data? Per the most recent ACS data, the poorest city in America is Detroit, MI.

The richest city in America? That would be Centennial, CO.

To see exactly how we calculated these rankings, read on.

Or if you’re simply not interested in reading about crime and blight, and you don’t care about this list, check out:

Article Table Of Contents   

(Skip to section)

The 10 Poorest Cities In America For 2022

Detroit - what else can we say. You're literally the poorest, least employed and most poverty stricken place in the nation. And that's despite the fact, that people keep saying Detroit is getting better. Of course, you could talk about the decline of Detroit starting when car companies pulled out of town. That's part of it. You could spend an entire article talking about what happened in Detroit, but today, you can buy houses for $1, about 60% of the population is gone, and it's straight rough in most parts.

Why Detroit? Chicago, Philly, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Cincinnati were all somewhat spared. And other rust belt towns like Pittsburgh and St. Louis - and heck even Cleveland, aren't doing THAT bad.

Fact is, Detroit has a TON of catching up to do if it wants to somewhat resemble an actual American city at some point down the road.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 672,351
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $32,498
Unemployment Rate: 14.9%
Poverty Rate: 33.2%
More on Detroit: Crime | Cost Of Living

Detroit, MI

Cleveland is straight broke. 32.0% of the city is poverty stricken, and the average family lives just outside of poverty. If you live there, this isn't new news.

At least the Cleveland sports teams have been taking people's minds off of being in the poor house. And there's theaters, nice restaurants opening up and national orchestras in town - despite those being traditionally wealthy forms of entertainment. Can anyone weigh in on if a majority of Cleveland residents can afford to do these things?

Apparently, though, the more you look online, the more optimistic you see Clevelanders talking about how their city is improving each year. That's great news, Cleveland. Like the other cities on this list, we're pulling for ya. And best of all, Cleveland - at least you're not Detroit.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 383,331
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $31,838
Unemployment Rate: 12.4%
Poverty Rate: 32.0%
More on Cleveland: Crime | Cost Of Living

Cleveland, OH

Hartford is in the top ten in all three categories we measured, and it has a high unemployment rate at 11.34%. And its poverty rate is twice the national average. Yikes.

A pretty in depth article talked about Hartford's fall from grace - noting that at one point, Hartford was very popular. To sum, Hartford is more expensive to live than lots of other places, people are leaving Hartford in droves these days, and crime is really high. When manufacturing left, so did the jobs, talent, and enthusiasm.

Hartford used to have a hockey team, but they moved to Raleigh. They have a baseball team called...the Yard Goats? Why are they called that? Anyways, I'm surprised Hartford residents have any supplemental income to go watch baseball games.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 122,549
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Income: $36,154
Unemployment Rate: 11.3%
Poverty Rate: 28.0%
More on Hartford: Crime | Cost Of Living

Hartford, CT

Source: Public domain

There once was a guy from Dayton
His life he tried to straighten
In 2003,
He got a degree
Did he get a good job? He's still waiting'

We're almost to our poorest place in the USA, and we'll take a couple quick stops in Ohio. Here in Dayton, things are a real mess. 1 in 3 residents lives in poverty, and people barely crack the $30k mark annually for salaries.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 140,444
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $34,457
Unemployment Rate: 10.3%
Poverty Rate: 29.6%
More on Dayton: Crime | Cost Of Living

Dayton, OH

Moving on, we come to our 5th poorest city in America, Newark. Here, the population averages about $10,000 more than the official poverty line at $37,476 a year, and the poverty and unemployment rates are dismally low.

If you compared Newark to Camden, Camden peeps make a little more money, and collectively, are the 40th poorest populace in the nation. I guess Camden wins that battle?

For many of Newark's poor, there are many opportunities, as long as they try. Newark is the nation's third largest insurance hub, behind Hartford and New York City. There are also a number of larger tech companies and medical corporations headquartered here. Several notable Newarkians include Jason Alexander from Seinfeld, rapper ICE T, and Steve Sanders from Beverly Hills 90210. Oh yeah and some scientist who helped Albert Einstein.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 281,917
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $37,476
Unemployment Rate: 10.6%
Poverty Rate: 26.3%
More on Newark: Crime | Cost Of Living

Newark, NJ

Our next stop is in upstate New York. This time, we're going to Rochester. One Rochester resident says, and I'll paraphrase: Rochester used to be the headquarters for several large companies back in the 70s and 80s, and then a heavy tax burden businesses in the area. Now, a lot of the larger companies have left, taking the local economy with them.

Apparently, most of that is true - the language is kinda rough, but yes, Rochester was once a thriving city. It used to be a place where you could get your GED and make a pretty decent salary in what was considered a low-skilled job. Now, low high school graduation rates in Rochester make it tough to find the skills needed to entice companies. But they're trying. The area is luring in new companies to the area these days.

Let's all root for Rochester!

Rochester residents make a little less money than their Syracuse peers, but essentially, both have mostly poor to middle class residents. I wondered what type of music Rochester would listen to. And other poor communities. Apparently, there's an answer for just about everything on the web. Poorer people like to listen to golden oldies, disco and rap. Richer people like classical, opera and rock.

Who listens to Taylor Swift then? 12 year olds?

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 206,357
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Income: $37,395
Unemployment Rate: 8.9%
Poverty Rate: 30.4%
More on Rochester: Crime | Cost Of Living

Rochester, NY

Our 7th poorest city in America is Syracuse, New York, where 1 in 3 people lives in poverty - the 4th highest rate in the US. Syracuse has actually become more poor than any other major city. A few years back, Syracuse was the 10th poorest, and now it's the 7th poorest. Across America, poverty rates have ticked up in major cities, but overall, poverty rates have gone down overall, by quite a bit - about 10 percent more people are less poor nowadays.

On top of the poverty issue here in upstate New York, Syracuse actually gets more snowfall than any other place in America - with slightly more snow that Wooster Mass and nearby Buffalo. As such, Syracuse residents pay about 25% of their homeownership costs on utilities, with a big portion of that going to their heating bills. So for many months, it's extra tough to get to one of four Syracuse area Super Walmarts, or one of four area Syracuse Targets. Since Targets groceries are about 15% more expensive than Walmarts, it's safe to assume the poorer folks patronize Walmart.

Look at how many dollar stores are in the greater Syracuse region. Makes sense.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 142,553
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $38,893
Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
Poverty Rate: 30.3%
More on Syracuse: Crime | Cost Of Living

Syracuse, NY

If you're judging horrible by really poor, than Jackson would be the reason Mississippi is horrible. Not that it's horrible, but it's certainly poor. Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation, you know.

Jackson is located along the western side of the state. And as you can see in this county by county map of poverty rates in America, a lot of western Mississippi is poo to the oor. Other poor hotspots include the US Mexico border in Texas, a large part of rural, mountainous Kentucky, and Native American reservations in both Arizona and South Dakota.

Jackson is known for many things, including the place where some guy broke the record for a Dr. Mario score. It used to be that you couldn't make a lot of money playing video games, but hopefully, that guy has made a profitable career here today. He'd be an outlier, that's for sure.

Do poor people play video games? What TV shows do they watch? Well, apparently, the poorer you are, the more video games you play - by about 12 minutes a day. So are poor people playing more video games because it's cheaper than going out, or are they poor because they play video games more?

The TV show with the richest viewership? The Bachelorette.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 163,778
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $40,064
Unemployment Rate: 11.4%
Poverty Rate: 24.5%
More on Jackson: Crime | Cost Of Living

Jackson, MS

Source: Public domain

You'll notice this list has a few cities from Ohio. That state has been hit hard by the economic changes of the last few decades, leading to significant financial hardship in many of its once-thriving urban centers. Well, here's another one: Toledo counts as the number 9.0 poorest city in the U.S.

Located on Lake Erie, just south of the Michigan border, life in Toledo can get rough for its 275116 residents. The median income equals $39,155 and the unemployment rate hovers at 8.7%. A lack of good-paying jobs has left 25.63% of locals making due in sub-poverty conditions.

Life isn't all struggle, however. There are plenty of amenities in town, including the Toledo Zoo and the Toledo Museum of Art.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 275,116
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $39,155
Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
Poverty Rate: 25.6%
More on Toledo: Crime | Cost Of Living

Toledo, OH

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 121,156
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $43,816
Unemployment Rate: 10.0%
Poverty Rate: 25.6%
More on Allentown: Crime | Cost Of Living

Allentown, PA

Methodology: How We Determined The Poorest Large Cities in The US For 2022

When we analyze a place to live, we study the statistics you can find anywhere on the web. You can get just about any demographic out there.

For this analysis we used the -- U.S. Census's 2016-2020 American Community Survey.

For this study, we considered the following categories:

  • # of residents living in poverty
  • Income rank
  • % of population unemployed

The census just updated their data, so we can take a fresh look at it.

And, to be clear, we measured the 306 largest cities in America with populations over 100,000. So, while your little small town might be broke, we're only looking at the most populated areas.

To score the cities, we ranked each one from 1 to 306 where 1 is the "poorest" for that category. We then averaged the three rankings into a poor score with the lowest overall score being named poorest city in America. You can download the data here.

Summary: The Poorest Cities in The Us For 2022

After all the dust settled and the analysis was over, we crowned Detroit as the poorest city in America for 2022.

While it's bad news for the cities we mentioned, we have to acknowledge the richest cities in America. If you live in Centennial, CO, Cary, or Frisco, , sounds like things are going pretty well right now.

Maybe it's time for you to look at giving back to the community a bit?

Here's a look at the richest cities in America:

  1. Centennial
  2. Cary
  3. Frisco

For more reading, check out:

Poorest Cities In America For 2022

Rank City Population Median Income
1 Detroit, MI 672,351 $32,498
2 Cleveland, OH 383,331 $31,838
3 Hartford, CT 122,549 $36,154
4 Dayton, OH 140,444 $34,457
5 Newark, NJ 281,917 $37,476
6 Rochester, NY 206,357 $37,395
7 Syracuse, NY 142,553 $38,893
8 Jackson, MS 163,778 $40,064
9 Toledo, OH 275,116 $39,155
10 Allentown, PA 121,156 $43,816
11 Springfield, MA 153,677 $41,571
12 Birmingham, AL 210,928 $38,832
13 Buffalo, NY 255,805 $39,677
14 Memphis, TN 650,910 $41,864
15 Akron, OH 197,375 $40,281
16 Augusta-Richmond County Consolidated Government (Balance), GA 197,535 $43,759
17 New Haven, CT 130,381 $44,507
18 Baton Rouge, LA 222,191 $44,177
19 Lansing, MI 117,488 $44,233
20 Bridgeport, CT 145,014 $47,484
21 Rockford, IL 147,441 $44,771
22 New Orleans, LA 391,249 $43,258
23 Shreveport, LA 189,890 $40,809
24 Cincinnati, OH 302,687 $42,663
25 Waterbury, CT 107,841 $46,329
26 Paterson, NJ 145,484 $45,141
27 Las Cruces, NM 102,950 $45,140
28 Pueblo, CO 111,776 $42,902
29 San Bernardino, CA 216,784 $49,287
30 Philadelphia, PA 1,581,531 $49,127
31 Tallahassee, FL 192,885 $46,461
32 Savannah, GA 145,492 $46,149
33 Tuscaloosa, AL 100,633 $44,507
34 Brownsville, TX 182,230 $40,924
35 Fayetteville, NC 211,201 $46,321
36 Fresno, CA 526,147 $53,368
37 Milwaukee, WI 592,649 $43,125
38 Columbus, GA 195,418 $47,418
39 Tucson, AZ 545,340 $45,227
40 Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (Balance), GA 124,962 $39,713
41 Providence, RI 179,472 $49,065
42 Peoria, IL 112,644 $51,736
43 Columbia, SC 134,057 $47,416
44 Victorville, CA 122,958 $55,155
45 Evansville, IN 118,414 $42,623
46 Miami Gardens, FL 110,767 $46,760
47 Mobile, AL 189,994 $43,456
48 South Bend, IN 102,686 $42,657
49 Baltimore, MD 602,274 $52,164
50 Eugene, OR 170,457 $52,689
51 Montgomery, AL 199,054 $49,608
52 Gainesville, FL 133,611 $38,028
53 Kansas City, KS 153,014 $46,424
54 Miami, FL 461,080 $44,268
55 Knoxville, TN 187,487 $41,598
56 Richmond, VA 229,233 $51,421
57 St. Louis, MO 304,709 $45,782
58 Norfolk, VA 244,300 $53,026
59 Pasadena, TX 152,537 $57,781
60 Killeen, TX 148,573 $50,335
61 Pompano Beach, FL 111,202 $52,565
62 Greensboro, NC 294,395 $49,492
63 Springfield, MO 167,601 $37,491
64 El Cajon, CA 103,249 $56,367
65 El Paso, TX 679,879 $48,866
66 Mcallen, TX 142,557 $49,259
67 Tulsa, OK 402,441 $49,474
68 Laredo, TX 260,571 $51,120
69 Warren, MI 134,188 $51,796
70 Waco, TX 137,779 $40,349
71 West Palm Beach, FL 111,006 $54,603
72 Houston, TX 2,313,238 $53,600
73 Lancaster, CA 157,697 $58,413
74 Winston-Salem, NC 245,787 $47,269
75 Grand Rapids, MI 199,417 $51,333
76 Stockton, CA 311,103 $58,393
77 Provo, UT 116,886 $50,072
78 Chicago, IL 2,699,347 $62,097
79 High Point, NC 112,434 $49,649
80 Beaumont, TX 117,321 $48,168
81 El Monte, CA 113,917 $53,874
82 College Station, TX 115,802 $47,456
83 Clearwater, FL 115,975 $50,335
84 Lakeland, FL 110,335 $50,136
85 Rialto, CA 103,549 $65,538
86 Pittsburgh, PA 301,286 $50,536
87 San Antonio, TX 1,529,133 $53,420
88 Springfield, IL 115,075 $54,164
89 Indianapolis, IN 869,387 $50,813
90 Atlanta, GA 497,642 $64,179
91 Spokane, WA 219,185 $52,600
92 Wichita Falls, TX 104,657 $47,335
93 Chattanooga, TN 181,370 $47,165
94 Bakersfield, CA 379,879 $65,687
95 Inglewood, CA 109,309 $58,536
96 Elizabeth, NJ 128,484 $50,647
97 Des Moines, IA 215,408 $54,843
98 Tempe, AZ 191,607 $61,290
99 Fort Wayne, IN 268,378 $51,454
100 Tampa, FL 395,912 $55,634

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.