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.
The richest city in America? That would be Frisco, TX.
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:
How We Determined The Poorest Large Cities in The US
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.
For this study, we considered the following categories:
- # of residents living in poverty
- Income rank
- % of population unemployed
The census just updated their data at the end of 2017, so we can take a fresh look at it.
And, to be clear, we measured the 300 largest cities in America. 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 300 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.
Here’s a look at the top ten.
1. Detroit, MI
Median Income: $26,249
Unemployment Rate: 22.1%
Poverty Rate: 39.4%
No surprise here. Although it’s slowly recovering, Detroit is atop every ‘crummy’ list that ranks places to live in America.
Detroit has the highest unemployment rate – 22% – than anywhere else in the nation. That’s the main reason people here are living in poverty at such a high rate.
Median Income: $26,583
Unemployment Rate: 17.3%
Poverty Rate: 36.0%
If you’ve ever been to Cleveland, you’d understand how it ranks highly on the list of poorest cities in the U.S. While there are now some parts of downtown making a recovery, it’s pretty much an unhappy, broke place.
Tip: When heading east on I-90 outside of Cleveland, don’t get off the highway until you’re well past the suburbs. You’ve got a pretty decent chance of being car jacked in the middle of the day.
3. Hartford, CT
Median Income: $32,095
Unemployment Rate: 17.5%
Poverty Rate: 31.9%
Hartford? Really? It’s true. People in CT are likely nodding in agreement at the ranking.
Hartford ranks in the top 10 in all three categories, and it has the 3rd-highest unemployment rate in America at 17%. Yikes.
4. Dayton, OH
Median Income: $28,745
Unemployment Rate: 13.3%
Poverty Rate: 34.5%
Dayton, Ohio is just a smaller version of Cleveland. It’s getting more run down every year, and it seems like the constant road construction around town makes it even more depressing.
More than 1 in 3 Dayton residents lives in poverty.
Median Income: $31,684
Unemployment Rate: 13.0%
Poverty Rate: 32.8%
Rochester is a surprise. It’s actually a pretty decent place to make home. But the data doesn’t lie.
Rochester residents earn the 9th-lowest incomes of all Americans for cities over 100,000 people.
6. Newark, NJ
Median Income: $33,025
Unemployment Rate: 17.2%
Poverty Rate: 29.1%
Newark is just a real pit. Hey – don’t shoot the messenger. That’s what we read on internet forums and on Facebook comments.
Not only is the danger level at a 10, the number of people out of work makes it a tough place to thrive. More than 17% of the population of Newark is counted as being out of work. We’re going to assume that number is actually much higher than that.
7. Jackson, MS
Median Income: $32,866
Unemployment Rate: 12.8%
Poverty Rate: 30.7%
Jackson is the first list from the south on here. While the people here may be charming, we’re not measuring personality. We’re measuring sheer wealth..
Median Income: $32,404
Unemployment Rate: 11.8%
Poverty Rate: 29.4%
Back in the 1950’s, San Bernardino was a cool place. My, how things have changed.
Most of the downfall of San Bernardino started when Los Angeles refugees fled east and began to make the Inland Empire their home. When major industries pulled out in the 1980’s, it meant a loss of great jobs.
Now, there’s no hope for San Bernardino, which is sad.
Median Income: $38,456
Unemployment Rate: 14.1%
Poverty Rate: 32.3%
Birmingham is the only other true southern city to make the top 10.
It’s the 11th-highest for poverty levels, and ranks 21st-lowest for incomes.
10. Syracuse, NY
Median Income: $32,704
Unemployment Rate: 10.7%
Poverty Rate: 33.6%
Wow, upstate New York owns 20% of the cities on this list.
While Syracuse is a hotbed for young, exciting singles, it’s also a poor place where 1 in 3 people lives in poverty.
There You Have It — The Cities Most Down On Their Luck in America
After all the dust settled and the analysis was over, we crowned Detroit as the poorest city in America for 2018.
While it’s bad news for the cities we mentioned, we have to acknowledge the richest cities in America. If you live in Frisco, Texas, Cary, North Carolina or Pearland, Texas, 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:
For more reading, check out: