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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 335 places in Illinois with more than 5,000 people.
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 Illinois? According to the facts, Centreville is the poorest place in Illinois for 2020.
For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Illinois
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Illinois
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Illinois
The 10 Poorest Cities In Illinois For 2020
Centreville, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Illinois thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 5,059 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Illinois and the 2nd 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.
The second poorest city in Illinois is East St. Louis.
The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 4th highest in the Prairie State.
Placing as the third poorest city, Riverdale'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 30.61032863849765% 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.
Harvey ranks as the fourth poorest place in Illinois.
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.
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $26,804 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (22nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 38.7% (3rd highest)
More on Robbins: Data
The fifth poorest city in Illinois is Robbins.
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 Illinois.
Still not the best news for Robbins.
Carbondale ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Prairie State.
It ranks as having the 1st highest incidence of poverty and the 27th highest unemployment rate.
Cahokia places as the seventh poorest city in Illinois.
The city of over 14,271 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.
West Frankfort ranks as the eighth poorest city in Illinois.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 23rd highest in the state.
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $38,353 (22nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.9% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.8% (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 22nd 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.
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Median Income: $42,105 (40th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.3% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.8% (16th highest)
More on Sauk Village: Data
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Illinois is Sauk Village.
The city of 10,516 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Prairie State.
How We Determined The Poorest Places In Illinois for 2020
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 2014-2018 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 335 places with more than 5,000 people in Illinois, we ranked each place from 1 to 335 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 2020". You can download the data here.
There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Illinois For 2020
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:
2nd Richest: Inverness
3rd Richest: Hawthorn Woods
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Illinois
- 10 Safest Places In Illinois
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Illinois
- Most Expensive Places To Live In Illinois
Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Illinois
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