Poorest Cities In America For 2020

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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the poorest cities in America. This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment — don’t freak out.

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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.

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:

The 10 Poorest Cities In America For 2020

Detroit, MI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 677,155
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,481
Unemployment Rate: 17.3%
Poverty Rate: 36.4%
More on Detroit:  | Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Detroit by HomeSnacks User

A new statue unveiled by the Satanic Temple in Detroit. When I was driving around Detroit and I saw this horrible statue there, I was like what’s going on with this legislators and the government that allowed a thing like that. I hate it a lot and left town that day.

The satan statue is a disgusting thing that is there in Detroit. The statue is backed by an inverted pentagram and flanked by statues of two young children gazing up at the creature, which has horns, hooves, wings and a beard.

Cleveland, OH

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 387,398
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,008
Unemployment Rate: 14.7%
Poverty Rate: 34.6%
More on Cleveland:  | Data | Photos

Cleveland is straight broke. 34.65% 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.

Review Of Cleveland by HomeSnacks User

Everything in Cleveland is terrible. The crime, the roads, the people, the weather. It is the worst place I have ever had the misfortune to live in.

The worst thing is the snow in the winter months and having to deal with all of cold and mess. Everybody is really cranky so you get no friendliness from people. The air quality s***s so you can never take a real breath. Just an awful place.

Dayton, OH

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 140,782
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $31,395
Unemployment Rate: 11.9%
Poverty Rate: 32.1%
More on Dayton:  | Data | Photos

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 waitin’

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.

Review Of Dayton by HomeSnacks User

All of Dayton bad the Westside being the worst there ar junkies every where alot of fentanyl h****n junkies and m**h junkies if you want good dope come to Dayton Ohio drive James H Macgee or Gettysburg ave you can find dope on the east end and Northside to I’m born and raised here if you want to live in a grimy a*s drug fueled crime ridden city but don’t want to lived in a over populated place like Cleveland Cincinnati or Columbus come to Dayton will meet all your f****d up dreams we were the overdose capital of the country for few years we have big city crime without big city traffic where nightmares came to die Dayton Ohio oh yeah home of the Wright Brothers Ohio Players And Roger Troutman same place Roger Troutman was murdered and China Arnold stuck her baby in the microwave wave and killed it

The Dope and Dope fiends everyone grimy

Rochester, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 207,778
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $33,399
Unemployment Rate: 11.3%
Poverty Rate: 32.6%
More on Rochester:  | Data | Photos

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 burdened 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?

Review Of Rochester by HomeSnacks User

I may not live in Rochester any more, but it will always be home!

Hartford, CT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 123,628
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $34,338
Unemployment Rate: 13.6%
Poverty Rate: 30.1%
More on Hartford:  | Data | Photos

Hartford is in the top ten in all three categories we measured, and it has a high unemployment rate at 13.58%. 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.

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.

Newark, NJ

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Population: 280,463
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $35,181
Unemployment Rate: 12.8%
Poverty Rate: 28.0%
More on Newark:  | Data | Photos

Moving on, we come to our 6th poorest city in America, Newark. Here, the population averages about $10,000 more than the official poverty line at $35,181 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.

Review Of Newark by HomeSnacks User

there are no crimes and it has a very pleasant atmosphere and it also has a school and the local governance is good

liberty state park is my favorite place to hang out and new port is the best area to visit

Syracuse, NY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 143,293
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $36,308
Unemployment Rate: 10.2%
Poverty Rate: 31.8%
More on Syracuse:  | Data | Photos

Our 7th poorest city in America is Syracuse, New York, where 1 in 3 people lives in poverty – the 5th 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.

Review Of Syracuse by HomeSnacks User

Syracuse, NY, is a blue collar rust belt city filled with history and character. It’s admittedly not for all, as it absolutely does lack the polish of many more prosperous cities, and it’s weather can be punishing. But, the city has a proud past that was instrumental in American history, ranging from being an integral part of the Erie Canal, to being the site where the basketball shot clock was invented, and much, much more in between. Syracuse also has several museums, a handful of sports teams, and the Syracuse University Orange, it’s pride and joy.

Good: The people, the history, the sports, and the general blue collar feel are fantastic.

Bad: The weather, the economy, and the crime rate could use some help.

Birmingham, AL

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 212,021
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $35,346
Unemployment Rate: 10.2%
Poverty Rate: 27.2%
More on Birmingham:  | Data | Photos

Birmingham, Alabama — here, the residents earn on average, $35,346 a year, and the poverty rates one of the lowest in the country, too. Alabama’s other poorest city, Mobile, isn’t quite as poor, where people make a more reassuring $40k a year.

Speaking of maps, where would a resident of Birmingham go for fun? Like, what do poor people do for entertainment? There wasn’t an exact answer, but after searching the internet for like 2 minutes, it was clear that poorer Americans go to public parks and pools, fish, attend church and spend time with friends and family. And guess what? Those things cost nothing.

And sadly, poorer people don’t have as much time to do that, as research suggests there’s about a 10-12 year gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor.

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.

Jackson, MS

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 168,862
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Income: $37,563
Unemployment Rate: 11.8%
Poverty Rate: 26.9%
More on Jackson:  | Data | Photos

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.

Review Of Jackson by HomeSnacks User

I love Jackson, MS I was born and raised here. I love how you can’t even walk down the streets because Jamal or Tyrone might have had a bad day and decide he wants to end your life. I also like all of the homeless harassing me for money and urinating in front of my family and I. The city government is also a haram of idiots pretending to be competent leaders who can’t even maintain roads and water lines. I also love how you can’t even go to a decently priced restaurant without hearing Tyrone and Shanequa having a screaming match or just screaming for fun. If you have to move here I advise a trip to a gun store. It’s a great place, everyone should move here.

My favorite place is when I leave on vacation to somewhere out side of the ghetto

Springfield, MA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 154,596
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $36,730
Unemployment Rate: 9.9%
Poverty Rate: 28.6%
More on Springfield:  | Data | Photos

Our next stop on our tour of the poorest cities in the US of A begins in Springfield, a smallish city on the southern border with Connecticut. Income levels in Springfield are some of the lowest in the US, where entire households earn, on average only about $37,000 a year.

Compare that to the richest large city in America, Pearland Texas, where families bring in about $98,000 a year. That’s nearly three times as much money. The richest place in America, period, despite population size, is Atherton, California, a tech hub near San Francisco, where families bring in $443,000 each year.

It would take Springfield residents 12 years to earn as much as Atherton people do in one year.

Springfield was the first place in America where a car was driven. They weren’t very reliable, but they got you from A to B. Today, people in Springfield still drive cars that aren’t reliable. Last year, Springfield got a shiny new casino in town, called the MGM Springfield. Most of Springfield doesn’t have a lot of extra income to spend at the casino. Not that that will stop them from throwing their money away, though.

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.

How We Determined The Poorest Large Cities in The US For 2020

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 2014-2018 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 301 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 301 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.

There You Have It — The Poorest Cities in The Us For 2020

After all the dust settled and the analysis was over, we crowned Detroit as the poorest city in America for 2020.

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, Frisco, or Pearland, , 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. Frisco
  3. Pearland

For more reading, check out:

Poorest Cities In America For 2020

Rank City Population Median Income
1 Detroit, MI 677,155 $29,481
2 Cleveland, OH 387,398 $29,008
3 Dayton, OH 140,782 $31,395
4 Rochester, NY 207,778 $33,399
5 Hartford, CT 123,628 $34,338
6 Newark, NJ 280,463 $35,181
7 Syracuse, NY 143,293 $36,308
8 Birmingham, AL 212,021 $35,346
9 Jackson, MS 168,862 $37,563
10 Springfield, MA 154,596 $36,730
11 Allentown, PA 120,410 $40,490
12 San Bernardino, CA 215,182 $43,136
13 Cincinnati, OH 300,357 $38,542
14 Toledo, OH 278,193 $37,100
15 Memphis, TN 653,248 $39,108
16 Buffalo, NY 257,518 $35,893
17 Augusta-Richmond County Consolidated Government (Balance), GA 196,807 $40,545
18 New Haven, CT 130,529 $41,142
19 Lansing, MI 116,699 $40,325
20 Pueblo, CO 109,985 $38,338
21 Philadelphia, PA 1,575,522 $43,744
22 Waterbury, CT 108,672 $41,617
23 Rockford, IL 147,881 $43,066
24 Savannah, GA 145,342 $41,093
25 Providence, RI 179,435 $42,158
26 Tallahassee, FL 190,180 $43,799
27 Milwaukee, WI 596,886 $40,036
28 Fresno, CA 522,277 $47,189
29 New Orleans, LA 389,648 $39,576
30 Akron, OH 198,314 $37,533
31 Baton Rouge, LA 225,362 $41,761
32 Gainesville, FL 130,790 $36,389
33 Miami Gardens, FL 112,913 $42,398
34 Bridgeport, CT 146,417 $45,441
35 St. Louis, MO 311,273 $41,107
36 Las Cruces, NM 101,742 $40,551
37 Tucson, AZ 539,216 $41,625
38 Shreveport, LA 193,785 $38,279
39 Brownsville, TX 182,679 $36,499
40 South Bend, IN 102,233 $38,943
41 Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (Balance), GA 123,310 $36,637
42 Miami, FL 451,214 $36,638
43 Victorville, CA 121,861 $50,691
44 Richmond, VA 223,787 $45,117
45 Columbus, GA 196,670 $45,389
46 Fayetteville, NC 209,867 $44,057
47 Montgomery, AL 200,156 $45,921
48 Baltimore, MD 614,700 $48,840
49 Winston-Salem, NC 242,125 $44,311
50 Kansas City, KS 152,069 $43,573
51 Columbia, SC 133,352 $45,663
52 Mcallen, TX 141,597 $47,279
53 Peoria, IL 114,512 $50,688
54 Stockton, CA 306,283 $51,318
55 Knoxville, TN 185,429 $37,703
56 North Charleston, SC 109,886 $41,316
57 Evansville, IN 118,952 $38,646
58 El Cajon, CA 103,285 $52,593
59 Wilmington, NC 118,094 $45,450
60 Mobile, AL 191,485 $40,588
61 Hialeah, FL 237,285 $33,161
62 Pompano Beach, FL 108,855 $47,764
63 Warren, MI 135,192 $47,419
64 Springfield, MO 166,633 $35,674
65 High Point, NC 111,035 $45,373
66 Lancaster, CA 159,662 $52,504
67 Inglewood, CA 110,327 $50,335
68 Norfolk, VA 245,592 $49,146
69 Waco, TX 133,964 $37,735
70 Grand Rapids, MI 197,081 $47,173
71 Eugene, OR 165,997 $49,029
72 Worcester, MA 185,195 $46,407
73 Paterson, NJ 145,800 $39,282
74 El Paso, TX 680,354 $45,656
75 Indianapolis, IN 857,637 $46,442
76 Elizabeth, NJ 128,153 $46,975
77 El Monte, CA 115,669 $47,121
78 Chattanooga, TN 177,365 $43,964
79 Pomona, CA 152,494 $55,115
80 Pittsburgh, PA 303,587 $45,831
81 Atlanta, GA 479,655 $55,279
82 Chicago, IL 2,718,555 $55,198
83 Lowell, MA 111,249 $51,987
84 Tampa, FL 376,345 $50,909
85 Laredo, TX 257,575 $43,351
86 Springfield, IL 116,459 $53,405
87 Rialto, CA 102,873 $58,061
88 Tulsa, OK 402,223 $46,113
89 Pasadena, TX 154,193 $53,331
90 West Palm Beach, FL 108,365 $51,635
91 Greensboro, NC 288,719 $46,702
92 College Station, TX 110,782 $42,964
93 Gresham, OR 110,770 $52,303
94 Lakeland, FL 105,958 $44,313
95 Killeen, TX 143,070 $50,418
96 Modesto, CA 211,336 $57,233
97 Wichita Falls, TX 104,494 $45,476
98 Houston, TX 2,295,982 $51,140
99 Fort Lauderdale, FL 178,783 $55,269
100 Provo, UT 116,146 $46,532

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 For 2020

  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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