These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Illinois For 2019


We used science and data to determine which places in Illinois 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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the poorest places in Illinois.

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Illinois brings to mind images of Springfield, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 332 places in Illinois with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Prairie State for 2019:

  1. Centreville (Photos)
  2. Harvey (Photos)
  3. East St. Louis (Photos)
  4. Riverdale (Photos)
  5. Cahokia (Photos)
  6. Robbins
  7. Kankakee (Photos)
  8. Carbondale (Photos)
  9. Markham
  10. West Frankfort (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, Centreville is the poorest place in Illinois for 2019.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Illinois 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 Illinois reading, check out:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Illinois for 2019

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 2013-2017 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 332 places with more than 5,000 people in Illinois, we ranked each place from 1 to 332 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, Centreville, crowned the “Poorest Place In Illinois For 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 332 places.

Centreville, IL

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 5,094
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $17,441 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.9% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 48.1% (1st highest)
More on Centreville:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 5,094 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Illinois 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.

Harvey, IL

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 25,685
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $24,343 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.5% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.6% (5th highest)
More on Harvey:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Illinois is Harvey.

The city ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 7th highest in the Prairie State.

East St. Louis, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 26,678
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $20,659 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 17.0% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 43.1% (3rd highest)
More on East St. Louis:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, East St. Louis’s median income ranks as the 2nd 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 43.1% 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 Prairie State.

Riverdale, IL

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 13,025
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $31,933 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.5% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.7% (13th highest)
More on Riverdale:  Data | Photos

Riverdale ranks as the fourth poorest place in Illinois.

The town ranks as having the 9th lowest median household income and the 13th 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.

Cahokia, IL

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 14,408
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $30,200 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (24th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.9% (10th highest)
More on Cahokia:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Illinois is Cahokia.

The city ranks as having the 7th 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 10th highest in Illinois.

Still not the best news for Cahokia.

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,203
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $30,285 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (40th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.3% (4th highest)
More on Robbins:  Data

Robbins ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Prairie State.

It ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and the 40th highest unemployment rate.

Kankakee, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 26,036
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $35,601 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.5% (30th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.1% (7th highest)
More on Kankakee:  Data | Photos

Kankakee places as the seventh poorest city in Illinois.

The city of over 26,036 ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Carbondale, IL

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 26,196
Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 12)
Median Income: $20,873 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (50th highest)
Poverty Rate: 45.4% (2nd highest)
More on Carbondale:  Data | Photos

Carbondale ranks as the eighth poorest city in Illinois.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 49th highest in the state.

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 12,649
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Income: $35,200 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.4% (22nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.2% (23rd highest)
More on Markham:  Data

Markham couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Illinois; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 14th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Markham ranks as having the 23rd most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Illinois.

West Frankfort, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,867
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Median Income: $26,993 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (35th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.7% (25th highest)
More on West Frankfort:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Illinois is West Frankfort.

The city of 7,867 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Prairie State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Illinois For 2019

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

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 Illinois, according to data:

    Richest: Inverness
    2nd Richest: Glencoe
    3rd Richest: Lake Bluff

For more Illinois reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Illinois

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Centreville 5,094 48.1%
2 Harvey 25,685 35.6%
3 East St. Louis 26,678 43.1%
4 Riverdale 13,025 28.7%
5 Cahokia 14,408 30.9%
6 Robbins 5,203 37.3%
7 Kankakee 26,036 32.1%
8 Carbondale 26,196 45.4%
9 Markham 12,649 25.2%
10 West Frankfort 7,867 24.7%
11 Alton 27,037 28.1%
12 Posen 6,371 27.5%
13 Harrisburg 9,344 23.2%
14 Sauk Village 10,572 23.2%
15 Centralia 12,582 26.3%
16 Danville 31,765 30.2%
17 Dolton 23,091 26.6%
18 Dekalb 43,141 30.8%
19 Macomb 18,684 31.4%
20 Freeport 24,537 21.9%
21 Hoopeston 5,186 22.9%
22 Calumet City 37,091 21.5%
23 Mount Vernon 14,723 25.4%
24 Charleston 21,202 33.5%
25 Streator 13,241 23.7%
26 Benton 7,050 22.1%
27 Chicago Heights 30,292 26.4%
28 Rockford 148,640 22.2%
29 Metropolis 6,239 25.7%
30 Blue Island 22,446 19.2%
31 Decatur 73,505 22.0%
32 Beardstown 6,004 21.1%
33 Salem 7,044 20.6%
34 Marseilles 5,058 24.0%
35 Urbana 42,141 31.9%
36 Paris 8,446 20.2%
37 North Chicago 30,013 23.2%
38 Park City 7,438 19.9%
39 Du Quoin 5,876 21.6%
40 Galesburg 31,215 22.5%
41 Zion 24,157 19.8%
42 Calumet Park 8,337 18.5%
43 Vandalia 7,013 20.1%
44 Pinckneyville 5,412 17.9%
45 Maywood 23,981 19.1%
46 Mattoon 17,370 19.3%
47 Kewanee 12,808 23.2%
48 Peoria 115,424 20.9%
49 Richton Park 13,661 20.2%
50 Olney 8,910 18.1%
51 Carlinville 5,327 18.9%
52 Rock Falls 8,898 17.5%
53 Summit 11,398 19.7%
54 Rock Island 38,560 19.8%
55 Monmouth 9,011 18.4%
56 Cicero 83,735 19.8%
57 Chicago Ridge 14,338 25.7%
58 Herrin 12,886 16.1%
59 Steger 9,505 16.1%
60 Jacksonville 18,812 18.0%
61 Park Forest 21,672 16.0%
62 Watseka 5,359 21.7%
63 Chicago 2,722,586 20.6%
64 Murphysboro 7,952 18.6%
65 Canton 14,187 20.1%
66 Mount Carmel 7,032 15.7%
67 Lansing 28,308 15.2%
68 Mendota 6,980 18.0%
69 East Moline 21,302 18.9%
70 Robinson 7,589 13.6%
71 Clinton 7,260 16.2%
72 Waukegan 87,999 17.8%
73 Belleville 42,283 17.9%
74 Granite City 29,632 17.6%
75 University Park 7,038 12.9%
76 Lasalle 9,351 15.5%
77 Justice 12,973 17.1%
78 Springfield 116,313 20.3%
79 Hazel Crest 13,935 14.7%
80 East Alton 6,158 18.7%
81 Ottawa 18,779 16.2%
82 Rantoul 13,190 19.8%
83 Wood River 10,326 18.5%
84 Bridgeview 16,511 18.7%
85 Pontiac 12,047 19.8%
86 Belvidere 25,358 15.6%
87 Melrose Park 25,447 19.1%
88 Quincy 40,587 16.5%
89 Glenwood 8,809 12.3%
90 Lynwood 9,357 10.6%
91 Champaign 85,710 26.9%
92 Harvard 9,482 11.8%
93 Pontoon Beach 5,881 18.4%
94 Creve Coeur 5,532 14.1%
95 Greenville 6,746 24.9%
96 Milan 5,082 12.4%
97 Country Club Hills 16,756 10.7%
98 Bellwood 19,165 11.7%
99 Hillsboro 7,231 14.4%
100 South Holland 21,991 11.5%

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