These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Minnesota For 2018


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

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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 144 places in Minnesota with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the North Star State for 2018:

  1. International Falls (Photos)
  2. Bemidji (Photos)
  3. Virginia (Photos)
  4. Winona (Photos)
  5. Hibbing (Photos)
  6. St. Cloud (Photos)
  7. Mankato (Photos)
  8. St. Paul (Photos)
  9. Columbia Heights (Photos)
  10. Sauk Rapids (Photos)

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.

And according to the facts, International Falls is the poorest place in Minnesota for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest 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.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Minnesota For 2018

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 2012-2016 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 144 places with more than 5,000 people in Minnesota, we ranked each place from 1 to 144 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, International Falls, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Minnesota For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 144 places.

1. International Falls

International Falls, Minnesota

Population: 6,226
Median Income: $38,750
Unemployment Rate: 10.8%
Poverty Rate: 25.6%
More on International Falls: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 6,226 people averages the 6th lowest median household income in Minnesota and the 3rd 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. Bemidji

Bemidji, Minnesota

Population: 14,664
Median Income: $33,680
Unemployment Rate: 9.3%
Poverty Rate: 24.1%
More on Bemidji: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Minnesota is Bemidji.

The city ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 3rd highest in the North Star State.

User comment that mentions Bemidji: bemidji mn shudbe number one becuz the crime rate here is the highest becuz the lawenforcement in this area will stop u for not using your blinker and write u ticket for it and yet you did use your blinker and also they will stop you for bogus charges in order to get u into beltrami court system to getu on paper or pay fines here the cops are harrassers and makeup their own rules thats the reason the crime rate in bemidji is so high becuz of the extreme amount of cops for this area…who are on lookout to stop u for any little thing and lie about it this blinker thing happend to me and said on a scanner that i got stoppt for excessive speed but iwasnt speeding and they said idint use my blinker but idid and igot a ticket for it the lawenforcement here and court sytem is bogus and it is a kangaroo court determined to throw u in prison or jail for doing nothing wrong

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

3. Virginia

Virginia, Minnesota

Population: 8,594
Median Income: $35,150
Unemployment Rate: 7.1%
Poverty Rate: 24.1%
More on Virginia: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Virginia’s median income ranks as the 3rd 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 24.1% 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.

User comment that mentions Virginia: This is so silly. The photos show the worst possible areas of these older towns. Yes, the downtowns are pretty sad – but there are major stores such as Target in town. By the way, Minntac just opened up again and mining is resuming on the Iron Range which includes Virginia, MN and several smaller towns that didn’t qualify for this survey. Your science and statistics may be dramatically different as of today. ||||In five minutes, you can be out in the Superior National Forest – from Virginia, Grand Rapids and Bemidji – wonderful lakes, forest and rivers…….many people live on lakes and there are million dollar homes on many of the northern lakes.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

4. Winona

Winona, Minnesota

Source: Public domain

Population: 27,372
Median Income: $43,701
Unemployment Rate: 7.6%
Poverty Rate: 19.5%
More on Winona: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Winona ranks as the fourth poorest place in Minnesota.

The town ranks as having the 13th lowest median household income and the 14th 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. Hibbing

Hibbing, Minnesota

Source: Public domain

Population: 16,230
Median Income: $42,004
Unemployment Rate: 7.7%
Poverty Rate: 18.2%
More on Hibbing: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Minnesota is Hibbing.

The city ranks as having the 9th 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 20th highest in Minnesota.

Still not the best news for Hibbing.

User comment that mentions Hibbing: I live in Hibbing mn, even though it wasn’t listed this town has very rude people who live here. If you’re not born and raised here you are not aaccepted. And that goes for the higher paying jobs, my husband who has his bachelors degree in business was never hired for any job locally because one of the questions during the interview was did you grow up in Hibbing- I mean really- What does that have to do with your qualifications— Any ways he’s works 1.5 hours away from Hibbing and drives it everyday…. People in Hibbing are snobs!! Just my opinion…

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

6. St. Cloud

St. Cloud, Minnesota

Population: 66,770
Median Income: $45,223
Unemployment Rate: 6.7%
Poverty Rate: 23.2%
More on St. Cloud: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

St. Cloud ranks as the sixth poorest place in the North Star State.

It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 15th highest unemployment rate.

7. Mankato

Mankato, Minnesota

Population: 40,900
Median Income: $43,808
Unemployment Rate: 5.5%
Poverty Rate: 24.6%
More on Mankato: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Mankato places as the seventh poorest city in Minnesota.

The city of over 40,900 ranks as having the 4th 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. St. Paul

St. Paul, Minnesota

Population: 297,160
Median Income: $50,820
Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
Poverty Rate: 21.6%
More on St. Paul: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

St. Paul ranks as the eighth poorest city in Minnesota.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 7th highest in the state.

User comment that mentions St. Paul: I moved from St. Paul to Cambridge/Isanti 4 years ago. It’s a great place to live. Small town feel and not to far away from city fun as well. People out here enjoy living in the country. It’s a good family friendly town. They are literally picking apart marginal data and ranking. Don’t let this article fool you.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

9. Columbia Heights

Columbia Heights, Minnesota

Population: 19,689
Median Income: $48,791
Unemployment Rate: 8.7%
Poverty Rate: 18.0%
More on Columbia Heights: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Columbia Heights couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Minnesota; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 30th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Columbia Heights ranks as having the 21st most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Minnesota.

10. Sauk Rapids

Sauk Rapids, Minnesota

Population: 13,334
Median Income: $48,164
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Poverty Rate: 19.6%
More on Sauk Rapids: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 13,334 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the North Star State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Minnesota For 2018

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: Rogers
2nd Richest: Victoria
3rd Richest: Otsego

For more Minnesota reading , check out:

  • 10 Worst Places To Live In Minnesota
  • 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Minnesota
  • 10 Safest Places In Minnesota
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Minnesota

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 International Falls 25.6%
    2 Bemidji 24.1%
    3 Virginia 24.1%
    4 Winona 19.5%
    5 Hibbing 18.2%
    6 St. Cloud 23.2%
    7 Mankato 24.6%
    8 St. Paul 21.6%
    9 Columbia Heights 18.0%
    10 Sauk Rapids 19.6%
    11 Brooklyn Center 18.9%
    12 Worthington 18.0%
    13 Austin 15.8%
    14 Duluth 21.0%
    15 Minneapolis 21.3%
    16 Brainerd 18.6%
    17 Waite Park 21.2%
    18 Red Wing 15.1%
    19 Albert Lea 14.5%
    20 Marshall 19.0%
    21 Willmar 17.3%
    22 Faribault 17.3%
    23 Crookston 19.5%
    24 Anoka 11.8%
    25 North St. Paul 13.7%
    26 West St. Paul 10.1%
    27 South St. Paul 13.1%
    28 Glencoe 15.7%
    29 Fridley 12.3%
    30 Cambridge 10.9%
    31 Mounds View 12.7%
    32 Morris 26.4%
    33 Detroit Lakes 19.0%
    34 Cloquet 16.3%
    35 Alexandria 11.6%
    36 Spring Lake Park 9.5%
    37 Richfield 11.5%
    38 Fergus Falls 11.7%
    39 Hopkins 12.8%
    40 Little Canada 10.0%
    41 Robbinsdale 11.6%
    42 Waseca 9.5%
    43 Buffalo 11.7%
    44 Little Falls 17.7%
    45 St. Joseph 30.1%
    46 Redwood Falls 11.9%
    47 New Hope 10.3%
    48 Maplewood 9.2%
    49 Brooklyn Park 10.7%
    50 St. Peter 22.4%
    51 Fairmont 14.1%
    52 Grand Rapids 17.8%
    53 Owatonna 9.9%
    54 St. Paul Park 8.8%
    55 Burnsville 9.6%
    56 Rochester 10.7%
    57 New Brighton 10.9%
    58 Coon Rapids 8.6%
    59 Inver Grove Heights 9.0%
    60 Roseville 11.5%
    61 Hastings 8.0%
    62 Moorhead 14.9%
    63 North Branch 8.7%
    64 Northfield 10.6%
    65 Falcon Heights 11.7%
    66 St. Francis 7.9%
    67 East Grand Forks 12.9%
    68 Litchfield 13.9%
    69 North Mankato 8.9%
    70 Zimmerman 6.6%
    71 Thief River Falls 9.7%
    72 Montevideo 12.5%
    73 Big Lake 12.3%
    74 Monticello 5.6%
    75 Crystal 8.5%
    76 Golden Valley 8.0%
    77 Lake City 8.5%
    78 Belle Plaine 6.8%
    79 Bloomington 8.0%
    80 Shakopee 6.9%
    81 Hutchinson 6.6%
    82 Mound 7.2%
    83 St. Louis Park 7.5%
    84 New Ulm 8.5%
    85 Forest Lake 6.8%
    86 Arden Hills 4.4%
    87 White Bear Lake 6.1%
    88 Baxter 8.0%
    89 Oakdale 6.3%
    90 Stewartville 9.5%
    91 Eagan 6.8%
    92 Isanti 4.1%
    93 New Prague 6.4%
    94 Blaine 5.5%
    95 St. Anthony 6.4%
    96 Elk River 7.0%
    97 Hermantown 5.4%
    98 Dayton 4.3%
    99 Apple Valley 6.8%
    100 Ham Lake 4.4%

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