Poorest Cities In America

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

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our third time ranking the poorest cities in America.

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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.

In order to determine which cities are the poorest in the US, we just needed to look at the percentage of people who live in poverty, the amount of money people make in each city, and the percentage of the population of each city where people are unemployed.

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 Pearland, TX.

And we only looked at the cities with more than 100,000 people. We’re pretty sure there are teeny cities all over the place where people are even poorer than the places we’re going to talk about today.

So, tighten your belts and try not to look at your bank account as we go through America’s poorest cities.

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 For 2019

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 2013-2017 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 293 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 293 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.

The 10 Poorest Cities In America For 2019

Detroit, MI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 679,865
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $27,838
Unemployment Rate: 19.8%
Poverty Rate: 37.9%
More on Detroit:  | Data | Photos

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 – almost 20% – than anywhere else in the nation. That’s the main reason people here are living in poverty at such a high rate.

Review Of Detroit by HomeSnacks User

I an 63 years old and grew up in detroit in the 1950s and 1960s. i no longer live there but have visited it several times in recent years.

Favorite places! The Detroit Institue of Art–too much time spent there is never enough. Plenty of art of all varieties to look at. Beautiful, provocative, awe-inspiring.

Princess Cruises- will take you on a ride up and down the Detroit River on both the Detroit side and the Canadian side. Scenic and restful.

Motown Museum-or as Paul McCartney put it “the Holy Grail”. must see for all music fans.

Any sports venue-Detroiters are enthusiastic sports fans and that makes for a lot of fun. The same for music concerts. Have seen McCartney and Eminem and Jay-Z-there-the crowd is entertaining as the show

What has always been a downside-problematic school system and poverty. Like to feel Detroit is on its way back but a lot of improvement needed in these areas.

Cleveland, OH

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Population: 388,812
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $27,854
Unemployment Rate: 16.0%
Poverty Rate: 35.2%
More on Cleveland:  | Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Cleveland by HomeSnacks User

I grew up here. It is completely segreated in terms of living. Some areas are really nice and classy while others are barren and proverty filled. Everything seems to have an invisible barrier when it comes to socialization, by that I mean some classes only associate themselves with their own and not too much outside. The weather is primarily cold, so there is not enough sunny days. I think the poor air quality and proverty effects the people too, the poorer physically look un healthier than those who are careful and can afford better care, but I think it depends on ones thinking.

The museums like the Rock and roll hall of fame, Art museum, and Children’s Museum.

Dayton, OH

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 140,939
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $30,128
Unemployment Rate: 12.9%
Poverty Rate: 32.7%
More on Dayton:  | Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Dayton by The real Doge

I live in Dayton Ohio the area that I live is pretty tuff but my area is getting pretty bad so I always lock my doors so no one robs my house

Hartford, CT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 124,390
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $33,841
Unemployment Rate: 16.0%
Poverty Rate: 30.5%
More on Hartford:  | Data | Photos

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 a high unemployment rate 16%. Yikes.

Review Of Hartford by HomeSnacks User

Hartford is a miserable crime riddled city without any positive attributes. The restaurants are sub-par. The crime rate is through the roof. It is not uncommon to see prostitutes and pimps. You can’t drive more than a couple blocks before you see a drug deal. The mayor is an idiot and is doing nothing to turn his awful city around. Now, the City of Hartford thinks the State of Connecticut should bail them out.

There is nothing worthwhile in this city. The baseball team is a complete joke. The restaurants are sub-par. The parks are heroine needle filled. The roads are full of potholes. The hospitals frequently treat people with gun shot wounds and stabbings. Avoid Hartford, Connecticut at all costs.

Rochester, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 209,463
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $32,347
Unemployment Rate: 12.0%
Poverty Rate: 33.1%
More on Rochester:  | Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Rochester by Nélo Apodaca

Haha I live in Rochester and I can’t wait to leave

Newark, NJ

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Population: 282,803
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $34,826
Unemployment Rate: 14.8%
Poverty Rate: 28.3%
More on Newark:  | Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Newark by HomeSnacks User

I stopped in the city because I was driving to New York. The city is like a tremble, very old and people are not so nice. I went to a convenient store and everyone was looking at me weird because I was probably in the wrong neighborhood. I felt very unwelcome, therefore I decided to drive off and not stay in a hotel there.

There was no good thing about this town. Everything looked destroyed. The stores were so old and most gas stations smelled like pee. The whole neighborhood had shady people. I would not recommend staying at this place.

Jackson, MS

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 170,393
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $35,308
Unemployment Rate: 12.4%
Poverty Rate: 28.9%
More on Jackson:  | Data | Photos

Jackson is the first on the list from the south.

While the people here may be charming, we’re not measuring personality. We’re measuring sheer wealth.

Review Of Jackson by HomeSnacks User

horrible streets and roads, crime, businesses leaving the city or states, going out of business, losing airlines, low business environment, bad schools and less good doctors.

The horrible streets and roads the bad; which aren’t being repaired due to lack of funds in the budget.

Syracuse, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 144,405
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $34,716
Unemployment Rate: 10.5%
Poverty Rate: 32.6%
More on Syracuse:  | Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Syracuse by HomeSnacks User

Rochester IS a GREAT PLACE to live ! Trust me I lived in Syracuse – the armpit of the universe. Rochester is cosmopolitan – non-judgmental, progressive. Cant comment on cost of living RE: retirement. Namaste – David

Birmingham, AL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 212,265
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $33,770
Unemployment Rate: 10.7%
Poverty Rate: 28.1%
More on Birmingham:  | Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Birmingham by HomeSnacks User

This place is very racist and not good at all its like a ghost town.

Its very racist and not a good place to live.

Springfield, MA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 154,613
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $37,118
Unemployment Rate: 11.1%
Poverty Rate: 28.7%
More on Springfield:  | Data | Photos

We had heard things had gotten worse in Springfield, but didn’t realize it was this bad.

The city rounds out our top ten poorest cities in the US for 2019 after finishing in 11th last year. Poverty and overall low incomes continue to be a problem for this city in South Central Mass.

Review Of Springfield by HomeSnacks User

It was a fun experience, with some great local colleges as well. The city had a lot of life and was fun for me on the whole.

The city will welcome most people and represents a great slice of life for the North East area of the United States.

There You Have It — The Poorest Cities in The US For 2019

So that’s it. Our tour of the poorest cities in America.

They’re kinda spread out, but tended to be in the south, northeast or upper midwest.

After all the dust settled and the analysis was over, we crowned Detroit as the poorest city in America for 2019.

If you live in one of these cities, keep your heads high and keep working hard to get ahead in life. Or, just play the lottery, that’s what all the other poor people do.

America sure has changed over time, and as we discovered, in the last 5 years, more and more Americans are living outside of poverty. So that’s great.

Hopefully, our economy continues to improve, so that more Americans can live life in relative comfort, and don’t have to worry as much about paying for healthcare and putting their kids through school, so they can focus on whether their football team is gonna make the playoffs or not.

While it’s bad news for the cities we mentioned, we have to acknowledge the richest cities in America. If you live in Pearland, TX, Frisco, TX or Centennial, CO, 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?

For more reading, check out:

Poorest Cities In America For 2019

Rank City Population Median Income
1 Detroit, MI 679,865 $27,838
2 Cleveland, OH 388,812 $27,854
3 Dayton, OH 140,939 $30,128
4 Hartford, CT 124,390 $33,841
5 Rochester, NY 209,463 $32,347
6 Newark, NJ 282,803 $34,826
7 Jackson, MS 170,393 $35,308
8 Syracuse, NY 144,405 $34,716
9 Birmingham, AL 212,265 $33,770
10 Springfield, MA 154,613 $37,118
11 Allentown, PA 120,128 $38,522
12 San Bernardino, CA 215,252 $41,027
13 Toledo, OH 279,455 $35,808
14 Cincinnati, OH 298,957 $36,429
15 Memphis, TN 654,723 $38,230
16 Buffalo, NY 259,574 $34,268
17 Lansing, MI 115,222 $38,642
18 Philadelphia, PA 1,569,657 $40,649
19 Waterbury, CT 109,250 $40,879
20 Pueblo, CO 109,122 $36,280
21 New Haven, CT 130,884 $39,191
22 Savannah, GA 145,094 $39,386
23 Milwaukee, WI 599,086 $38,289
24 Fresno, CA 519,037 $44,853
25 Providence, RI 179,509 $40,366
26 Gainesville, FL 129,394 $34,004
27 Akron, OH 198,252 $36,223
28 Tallahassee, FL 188,463 $42,418
29 South Bend, IN 101,928 $37,441
30 Rockford, IL 148,640 $41,991
31 Miami, FL 443,007 $33,999
32 St. Louis, MO 314,867 $38,664
33 Brownsville, TX 182,083 $35,636
34 Tucson, AZ 530,905 $39,617
35 Baton Rouge, LA 227,549 $40,948
36 New Orleans, LA 388,182 $38,721
37 Miami Gardens, FL 113,187 $41,139
38 Victorville, CA 121,721 $47,895
39 Richmond, VA 220,892 $42,356
40 Bridgeport, CT 147,586 $44,841
41 Las Cruces, NM 101,014 $40,924
42 Hialeah, FL 237,523 $31,012
43 Columbus, GA 198,647 $43,239
44 Stockton, CA 304,358 $48,396
45 Shreveport, LA 196,217 $37,390
46 Pompano Beach, FL 107,542 $44,756
47 Kansas City, KS 151,042 $41,671
48 Baltimore, MD 619,796 $46,641
49 El Cajon, CA 103,314 $49,445
50 Fayetteville, NC 210,324 $43,439
51 Mobile, AL 192,085 $40,020
52 Columbia, SC 132,236 $43,650
53 Inglewood, CA 111,006 $46,389
54 Peoria, IL 115,424 $47,697
55 Knoxville, TN 184,465 $36,331
56 Paterson, NJ 147,890 $36,106
57 Mcallen, TX 139,838 $45,057
58 Wilmington, NC 115,261 $43,867
59 Montgomery, AL 200,761 $44,339
60 North Charleston, SC 108,186 $39,944
61 Springfield, MO 165,785 $34,775
62 Lowell, MA 110,964 $48,581
63 Grand Rapids, MI 195,355 $44,369
64 Waco, TX 131,996 $36,004
65 Warren, MI 135,147 $45,611
66 Norfolk, VA 245,752 $47,137
67 High Point, NC 109,849 $44,642
68 Lancaster, CA 160,113 $49,314
69 Indianapolis, IN 853,431 $44,709
70 Atlanta, GA 465,230 $51,701
71 Evansville, IN 119,806 $36,956
72 Chattanooga, TN 176,291 $41,911
73 Worcester, MA 184,743 $45,869
74 Lakeland, FL 104,165 $42,033
75 Pittsburgh, PA 305,012 $44,092
76 El Monte, CA 115,958 $43,504
77 Chicago, IL 2,722,586 $52,497
78 Pomona, CA 152,366 $53,281
79 Elizabeth, NJ 129,363 $45,186
80 Pasadena, TX 153,909 $50,207
81 Tampa, FL 368,087 $48,245
82 Eugene, OR 163,135 $47,489
83 Laredo, TX 255,305 $41,302
84 West Palm Beach, FL 106,805 $49,054
85 El Paso, TX 678,266 $44,431
86 Rialto, CA 102,708 $54,962
87 Springfield, IL 116,313 $51,789
88 College Station, TX 107,445 $39,430
89 Gresham, OR 110,336 $50,675
90 Sacramento, CA 489,650 $54,615
91 Modesto, CA 210,166 $54,024
92 Tulsa, OK 401,352 $44,577
93 Los Angeles, CA 3,949,776 $54,501
94 Palmdale, CA 157,358 $56,699
95 Orlando, FL 269,414 $45,436
96 Fort Lauderdale, FL 177,175 $52,315
97 Provo, UT 116,199 $44,312
98 Tyler, TX 102,561 $46,463
99 Houston, TX 2,267,336 $49,399
100 Spokane, WA 212,982 $44,768

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.

2 thoughts on “Poorest Cities In America

  1. Thanks Rick, didn”t realize you were in the Indy area. Must try to get together next year or maybe at the Dayton show on April 7, 2018.

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