Alabama brings to mind images of Montgomery, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.
However, like all states, Alabama 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 Alabama that could use a helping hand.
To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 105 places in Alabama with more than 5,000 people.
We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Heart Of Dixie for 2018:
- Selma (Photos)
- Prichard (Photos)
- Monroeville (Photos)
- Demopolis (Photos)
- Tuskegee (Photos)
- Anniston (Photos)
- Chickasaw (Photos)
- Talladega (Photos)
- Alexander City (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, Selma is the poorest place in Alabama for 2018.
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 Alabama 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 105 places with more than 5,000 people in Alabama, we ranked each place from 1 to 105 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, Selma, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Alabama For 2018’.
You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 105 places.
Selma, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Alabama thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 19,650 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Alabama and the 1st 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.
User comment that mentions Selma: Hmmm interesting. I just read an article listing Selma’s Main Street as number 3 in the state. You have no idea the damage articles like this do to a city trying to improve their image. While it is appreciated that Selma has problems there is so much improving going on here. Two challenges for 2016. 1. Come visit and see the good here. 2. With so much bad in this world chose to be part of positive reporting! I promise it feels better than focusing on negative. Thanks for letting me voice my opinion.
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The second poorest city in Alabama is Prichard.
The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 4th highest in the Heart of Dixie.
Placing as the third poorest city, Monroeville’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 37.7% 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 Heart of Dixie.
Demopolis ranks as the fourth poorest place in Alabama.
The town ranks as having the 4th lowest median household income and the 7th 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.
The fifth poorest city in Alabama is Tuskegee.
The city ranks as having the 8th 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 21st highest in Alabama.
Still not the best news for Tuskegee.
Anniston ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Heart of Dixie.
It ranks as having the 9th highest incidence of poverty and the 9th highest unemployment rate.
Chickasaw places as the seventh poorest city in Alabama.
The city of over 5,955 ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Talladega ranks as the eighth poorest city in Alabama.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 2nd highest in the state.
Tarrant couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Alabama; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 5th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Tarrant ranks as having the 7th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Alabama.
User comment that mentions Tarrant: That’s definitely NOT a pic of Tarrant. I LIVE in Tarrant. Was born & raised here. I moved away for 20 years, but this is HOME. Stay out of our Tarrant, Nick! Unless you want to provide CORRECT images.
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10. Alexander City
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Alabama is Alexander City.
The city of 14,859 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Heart of Dixie.
There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Alabama For 2018
Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Alabama, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Alabama.
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 Alabama, according to data:
Richest: Mountain Brook
2nd Richest: Pike Road
3rd Richest: Helena
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