Arkansas brings to mind images of Little Rock, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.
However, like all states, Arkansas 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 Arkansas that could use a helping hand.
To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 61 places in Arkansas with more than 5,000 people.
We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Natural State for 2018:
- Helena-West Helena (Photos)
- Osceola (Photos)
- Monticello (Photos)
- Hope (Photos)
- Newport (Photos)
- Camden (Photos)
- Warren (Photos)
- Pine Bluff (Photos)
- West Memphis (Photos)
- Forrest 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, Helena-West Helena is the poorest place in Arkansas 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 Arkansas 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 61 places with more than 5,000 people in Arkansas, we ranked each place from 1 to 61 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, Helena-West Helena, crowned the “Poorest Place In Arkansas For 2018”.
You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 61 places.
1. Helena-West Helena
Population: 11,325Median Income: $21,653
Unemployment Rate: 20.6%
Poverty Rate: 42.8%
Helena-West Helena, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Arkansas thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 11,325 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Arkansas 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.
Population: 7,315Median Income: $26,031
Unemployment Rate: 19.1%
Poverty Rate: 39.0%
The second poorest city in Arkansas is Osceola.
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 2nd highest in the Natural State.
Population: 9,752Median Income: $28,615
Unemployment Rate: 17.6%
Poverty Rate: 36.3%
Placing as the third poorest city, Monticello’s median income ranks as the 8th 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 36.3% 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 Natural State.
Population: 9,968Median Income: $27,000
Unemployment Rate: 11.4%
Poverty Rate: 34.1%
Hope ranks as the fourth poorest place in Arkansas.
The town ranks as having the 5th 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.
Population: 7,781Median Income: $26,853
Unemployment Rate: 10.8%
Poverty Rate: 37.3%
The fifth poorest city in Arkansas is Newport.
The city ranks as having the 4th 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 3rd highest in Arkansas.
Still not the best news for Newport.
Population: 11,515Median Income: $25,581
Unemployment Rate: 10.1%
Poverty Rate: 34.0%
Camden ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Natural State.
It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 13th highest unemployment rate.
Population: 5,804Median Income: $27,753
Unemployment Rate: 11.2%
Poverty Rate: 32.3%
Warren places as the seventh poorest city in Arkansas.
The city of over 5,804 ranks as having the 9th 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. Pine Bluff
Population: 45,404Median Income: $30,942
Unemployment Rate: 12.6%
Poverty Rate: 32.5%
Pine Bluff ranks as the eighth poorest city in Arkansas.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 5th highest in the state.
9. West Memphis
Population: 25,411Median Income: $30,632
Unemployment Rate: 11.4%
Poverty Rate: 31.3%
West Memphis couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Arkansas; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 12th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, West Memphis ranks as having the 10th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Arkansas.
10. Forrest City
Population: 14,871Median Income: $33,250
Unemployment Rate: 11.4%
Poverty Rate: 30.1%
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Arkansas is Forrest City.
The city of 14,871 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Natural State.
There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Arkansas For 2018
Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Arkansas, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Arkansas.
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 Arkansas, according to data:
2nd Richest: Maumelle
3rd Richest: Bryant
For more Arkansas reading , check out:
Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Arkansas
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