Poorest Cities In Minnesota For 2021

We analyzed the over 140 places in Minnesota to determine which ones are at the bottom of the income ladder.

RoadSnacks is reader-supported. When you click through real estate links on our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in Minnesota.

Minnesota brings to mind images of Saint Paul, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, Minnesota has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in Minnesota that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 146 places in Minnesota with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Minnesota for 2021:

  1. Bemidji
  2. Virginia
  3. International Falls
  4. St. Cloud
  5. Fairmont
  6. Little Falls
  7. Willmar
  8. Mankato
  9. Winona
  10. Faribault

Again, this isn't a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it's just a look at the facts.

What's the poorst city in Minnesota? According to the facts, Bemidji is the poorest place in Minnesota for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best places in Minnesota or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more Minnesota reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Minnesota For 2021

1. Bemidji

Bemidji, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,132
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Income: $32,193 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.3% (highest)
More on Bemidji:  Data | Photos

Bemidji, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Minnesota thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 15,132 people averages the lowest median household income in Minnesota and the highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.

2. Virginia

Virginia, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,484
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $37,161 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.5% (2nd highest)
More on Virginia:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Minnesota is Virginia.

The city ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 3rd highest in the North Star State.

3. International Falls

International Falls, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,981
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $45,208 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.6% (16th highest)
More on International Falls:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, International Falls's median income ranks as the 7th lowest.

And that's a sign that there's a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 16.623466390184895% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.

But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the North Star State.

4. St. Cloud

St. Cloud, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 68,001
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $49,135 (20th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.5% (6th highest)
More on St. Cloud:  Data | Photos

St. Cloud ranks as the fourth poorest place in Minnesota.

The town ranks as having the 20th lowest median household income and the 6th highest incidence of poverty in the state.

That being said, there's still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.

5. Fairmont

Fairmont, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,127
Rank Last Year: 27 (Up 22)
Median Income: $47,876 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.4% (11th highest)
More on Fairmont:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Minnesota is Fairmont.

The city ranks as having the 12th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 11th highest in Minnesota.

Still not the best news for Fairmont.

6. Little Falls

Little Falls, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,664
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Income: $40,031 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (16th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.5% (22nd highest)
More on Little Falls:  Data | Photos

Little Falls ranks as the sixth poorest place in the North Star State.

It ranks as having the 22nd highest incidence of poverty and the 16th highest unemployment rate.

7. Willmar

Willmar, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 19,712
Rank Last Year: 29 (Up 22)
Median Income: $47,826 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (24th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.8% (17th highest)
More on Willmar:  Data | Photos

Willmar places as the seventh poorest city in Minnesota.

The city of over 19,712 ranks as having the 17th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Mankato

Mankato, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 42,093
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Median Income: $47,924 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (38th highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.0% (4th highest)
More on Mankato:  Data | Photos

Mankato ranks as the eighth poorest city in Minnesota.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 38th highest in the state.

9. Winona

Winona, MN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 26,854
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Income: $48,677 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (28th highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.8% (13th highest)
More on Winona:  Data | Photos

Winona couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in Minnesota; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 16th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Winona ranks as having the 13th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Minnesota.

10. Faribault

Faribault, MN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 23,800
Rank Last Year: 23 (Up 13)
Median Income: $50,702 (23rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 13.9% (28th highest)
More on Faribault:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Minnesota is Faribault.

The city of 23,800 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the North Star State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Minnesota for 2021

The first thing that comes to most people's minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.

However, we don't think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the "poorest places". So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2015-2019 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The "median household income adjusted for the cost of living" attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they'd still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 146 places with more than 5,000 people in Minnesota, we ranked each place from 1 to 146 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a "Poor Score" with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Bemidji, crowned the "Poorest Place In Minnesota For 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Minnesota For 2021

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Minnesota, we weren't sure what we'd encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Minnesota.

When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.

If you're curious enough, here are the richest cities in Minnesota, according to data:

    Richest: North Oaks
    2nd Richest: St. Michael
    3rd Richest: Corcoran

For more Minnesota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Minnesota

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Bemidji 15,132 31.3%
2 Virginia 8,484 25.5%
3 International Falls 5,981 16.6%
4 St. Cloud 68,001 22.5%
5 Fairmont 10,127 18.4%
6 Little Falls 8,664 15.5%
7 Willmar 19,712 15.8%
8 Mankato 42,093 25.0%
9 Winona 26,854 17.8%
10 Faribault 23,800 13.9%
11 Hibbing 16,014 15.0%
12 Austin 25,114 15.5%
13 Waseca 8,988 12.1%
14 St. Paul 304,547 18.9%
15 Albert Lea 17,773 13.5%
16 Duluth 85,915 18.2%
17 Minneapolis 420,324 19.1%
18 West St. Paul 19,779 13.4%
19 Red Wing 16,338 13.6%
20 Brooklyn Center 30,849 15.1%
21 Waite Park 7,692 25.0%
22 Marshall 13,651 19.7%
23 Worthington 13,105 17.5%
24 Cloquet 12,005 13.5%
25 Brainerd 13,373 22.2%
26 Columbia Heights 20,118 12.0%
27 Lake City 5,261 10.9%
28 Glencoe 5,495 12.5%
29 Jordan 6,230 14.3%
30 Anoka 17,471 10.3%
31 Falcon Heights 5,571 13.4%
32 Montevideo 5,108 10.8%
33 Detroit Lakes 9,197 14.2%
34 Mounds View 13,094 10.2%
35 Crookston 7,756 15.8%
36 North St. Paul 12,406 10.3%
37 East Grand Forks 8,604 12.2%
38 Little Canada 10,451 9.5%
39 Spring Lake Park 6,535 10.2%
40 South St. Paul 20,194 11.0%
41 Sauk Rapids 13,703 12.8%
42 St. Joseph 7,030 24.5%
43 Cambridge 8,774 9.2%
44 Moorhead 42,939 15.6%
45 St. Peter 11,854 15.6%
46 Grand Rapids 11,165 14.4%
47 Fridley 27,668 9.6%
48 New Brighton 22,556 11.3%
49 Fergus Falls 13,707 10.1%
50 New Hope 20,925 10.0%
51 Morris 5,334 17.7%
52 Maplewood 40,545 8.6%
53 Hutchinson 13,914 9.0%
54 Owatonna 25,685 9.1%
55 North Mankato 13,778 8.2%
56 Northfield 20,347 10.2%
57 Burnsville 61,311 7.6%
58 Buffalo 16,210 6.6%
59 Thief River Falls 8,790 13.5%
60 Crystal 22,975 7.6%
61 Roseville 36,026 8.9%
62 Hopkins 18,382 9.2%
63 Richfield 36,063 9.2%
64 Rochester 115,557 10.1%
65 Inver Grove Heights 35,320 7.6%
66 Brooklyn Park 80,068 8.4%
67 Isanti 5,749 9.8%
68 Alexandria 13,554 11.2%
69 Robbinsdale 14,468 8.1%
70 Oakdale 27,963 7.2%
71 Monticello 13,583 6.6%
72 Coon Rapids 62,517 6.2%
73 New Prague 7,899 6.8%
74 North Branch 10,454 7.9%
75 Elk River 24,522 6.1%
76 Arden Hills 10,293 4.6%
77 Bloomington 85,332 7.4%
78 St. Francis 7,652 7.7%
79 St. Paul Park 5,356 5.1%
80 Eagan 66,379 5.6%
81 Litchfield 6,631 8.2%
82 White Bear Lake 25,673 5.7%
83 Blaine 64,114 5.8%
84 Vadnais Heights 13,444 6.1%
85 Hastings 22,738 6.8%
86 Sartell 18,005 5.2%
87 New Ulm 13,242 7.1%
88 Chisago City 5,090 3.9%
89 St. Anthony 9,038 4.1%
90 Shakopee 40,731 5.1%
91 Zimmerman 5,657 7.8%
92 Forest Lake 20,004 5.9%
93 Wyoming 7,914 2.0%
94 Apple Valley 52,889 5.4%
95 Shorewood 7,867 3.9%
96 La Crescent 5,138 6.7%
97 St. Louis Park 48,677 6.5%
98 Mahtomedi 8,164 7.4%
99 Baxter 8,202 6.1%
100 Mound 9,480 5.1%

How Is The Area In ?

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.