Poorest Cities In Alaska For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in Alaska are basically dead broke.

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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 Alaska.

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

However, like all states, Alaska 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 Alaska that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 21 places in Alaska with more than 2,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Alaska for 2021:

  1. Palmer
  2. Kenai
  3. Kotzebue
  4. Wasilla
  5. Bethel
  6. Fairbanks
  7. Seward
  8. Ketchikan
  9. Wrangell
  10. Homer

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 Alaska? According to the facts, Palmer is the poorest place in Alaska for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best places in Alaska 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 Alaska reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Alaska For 2021

1. Palmer

Palmer, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,131
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $62,339 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 12.5% (4th highest)
More on Palmer:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 7,131 people averages the 6th lowest median household income in Alaska and the 4th 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. Kenai

Kenai, AK

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,742
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $61,348 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 13.4% (3rd highest)
More on Kenai:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Alaska is Kenai.

The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 7th highest in the Last Frontier.

3. Kotzebue

Kotzebue, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 3,287
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Income: $81,188 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.6% (highest)
More on Kotzebue:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Kotzebue's median income ranks as the 14th 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 18.558614290133004% 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 Last Frontier.

4. Wasilla

Wasilla, AK

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,071
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $63,587 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.0% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 11.9% (6th highest)
More on Wasilla:  Data | Photos

Wasilla ranks as the fourth poorest place in Alaska.

The town ranks as having the 8th 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. Bethel

Bethel, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,472
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $83,367 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.9% (2nd highest)
More on Bethel:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Alaska is Bethel.

The city ranks as having the 15th 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 2nd highest in Alaska.

Still not the best news for Bethel.

6. Fairbanks

Fairbanks, AK

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 31,551
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $62,602 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 11.0% (8th highest)
More on Fairbanks:  Data | Photos

Fairbanks ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Last Frontier.

It ranks as having the 8th highest incidence of poverty and the 6th highest unemployment rate.

7. Seward

Seward, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,773
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Income: $73,611 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 12.0% (5th highest)
More on Seward:  Data | Photos

Seward places as the seventh poorest city in Alaska.

The city of over 2,773 ranks as having the 5th 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. Ketchikan

Ketchikan, AK

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,228
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $61,419 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 11.0% (9th highest)
More on Ketchikan:  Data | Photos

Ketchikan ranks as the eighth poorest city in Alaska.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 9th highest in the state.

9. Wrangell

Wrangell, AK

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,502
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Median Income: $53,894 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 7.8% (16th highest)
More on Wrangell:  Data | Photos

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

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

10. Homer

Homer, AK

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 5,709
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $60,993 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 10.3% (10th highest)
More on Homer:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Alaska is Homer.

The city of 5,709 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Last Frontier.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Alaska 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 21 places with more than 2,000 people in Alaska, we ranked each place from 1 to 21 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, Palmer, crowned the "Poorest Place In Alaska For 2021". You can download the data here.

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

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

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 Alaska, according to data:

    Richest: Unalaska
    2nd Richest: Cordova
    3rd Richest: Valdez

For more Alaska reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Alaska

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Palmer 7,131 12.5%
2 Kenai 7,742 13.4%
3 Kotzebue 3,287 18.6%
4 Wasilla 10,071 11.9%
5 Bethel 6,472 15.9%
6 Fairbanks 31,551 11.0%
7 Seward 2,773 12.0%
8 Ketchikan 8,228 11.0%
9 Wrangell 2,502 7.8%
10 Homer 5,709 10.3%
11 Dillingham 2,215 11.9%
12 Soldotna 4,649 8.6%
13 Nome 3,850 7.5%
14 Sitka 8,640 8.7%
15 Kodiak 6,022 8.6%
16 Anchorage 293,531 9.0%
17 North Pole 2,740 6.6%
18 Juneau 32,227 7.7%
19 Valdez 3,847 8.2%
20 Cordova 2,829 4.7%
21 Unalaska 4,724 5.7%

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