Poorest Cities In Illinois For 2021


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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in Illinois.

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 336 places in Illinois with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Illinois for 2021:

  1. East St. Louis
  2. Harvey
  3. Cahokia
  4. Riverdale
  5. West Frankfort
  6. Sauk Village
  7. Robbins
  8. Carbondale
  9. Harrisburg
  10. Danville

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, East St. Louis is the poorest place in Illinois for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best 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:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Illinois For 2021

1. East St. Louis

East St. Louis, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 26,543
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $24,343 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.3% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.4% (3rd highest)
More on East St. Louis:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 26,543 people averages the 2nd lowest median household income in Illinois and the 3rd 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. Harvey

Harvey, IL

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 24,386
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $30,306 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.1% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.8% (4th highest)
More on Harvey:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Illinois is Harvey.

The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 8th highest in the Prairie State.

3. Cahokia

Cahokia, IL

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 14,162
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 4)
Median Income: $35,663 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.4% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.3% (7th highest)
More on Cahokia:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Cahokia'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 30.34046832351673% 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.

4. Riverdale

Riverdale, IL

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 12,793
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $35,711 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 20.1% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.3% (15th 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 15th 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. West Frankfort

West Frankfort, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,715
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $30,430 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.5% (6th highest)
More on West Frankfort:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Illinois is West Frankfort.

The city ranks as having the 5th 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 6th highest in Illinois.

Still not the best news for West Frankfort.

6. Sauk Village

Source: Public Domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 10,423
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Income: $38,788 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.3% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.8% (5th highest)
More on Sauk Village:  Data

Sauk Village ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Prairie State.

It ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and the 6th highest unemployment rate.

7. Robbins

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,037
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $27,209 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (28th highest)
Poverty Rate: 42.0% (2nd highest)
More on Robbins:  Data

Robbins places as the seventh poorest city in Illinois.

The city of over 5,037 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.

8. Carbondale

Carbondale, IL

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 25,597
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $22,152 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (33rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 43.1% (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 33rd highest in the state.

9. Harrisburg

Harrisburg, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,994
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Median Income: $35,204 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (3highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.2% (16th highest)
More on Harrisburg:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 7th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Harrisburg ranks as having the 16th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Illinois.

10. Danville

Danville, IL

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 31,246
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $36,172 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (37th highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.4% (10th highest)
More on Danville:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 31,246 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 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 336 places with more than 5,000 people in Illinois, we ranked each place from 1 to 336 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, East St. Louis, crowned the "Poorest Place In Illinois For 2021". You can download the data here.

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

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: Hawthorn Woods
    3rd Richest: Winnetka

For more Illinois reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Illinois

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 East St. Louis 26,543 33.4%
2 Harvey 24,386 32.8%
3 Cahokia 14,162 30.3%
4 Riverdale 12,793 26.3%
5 West Frankfort 7,715 30.5%
6 Sauk Village 10,423 31.8%
7 Robbins 5,037 42.0%
8 Carbondale 25,597 43.1%
9 Harrisburg 8,994 26.2%
10 Danville 31,246 29.4%
11 Macomb 17,857 29.8%
12 Posen 6,149 22.9%
13 Salem 7,027 23.0%
14 Centralia 12,356 22.8%
15 Alton 26,640 26.6%
16 Murphysboro 7,757 19.6%
17 Dolton 22,737 22.3%
18 Markham 12,493 19.0%
19 Carlinville 5,540 23.3%
20 Beardstown 5,682 24.3%
21 Rockford 147,070 22.3%
22 Dekalb 42,908 28.5%
23 Decatur 72,359 22.1%
24 Mount Vernon 14,742 22.2%
25 Kankakee 25,830 28.9%
26 Freeport 24,119 17.8%
27 Calumet City 36,551 18.0%
28 Du Quoin 5,761 20.8%
29 Urbana 42,718 29.8%
30 Chicago Heights 29,856 24.2%
31 Hoopeston 5,102 22.1%
32 Olney 8,723 19.0%
33 Vandalia 6,909 21.5%
34 Kewanee 12,547 20.6%
35 Mattoon 17,394 22.2%
36 Monmouth 8,763 16.4%
37 Streator 12,653 21.0%
38 North Chicago 29,971 21.2%
39 Galesburg 30,689 21.4%
40 Calumet Park 8,208 17.3%
41 Benton 6,971 17.0%
42 Blue Island 22,611 17.7%
43 Rock Island 38,111 21.1%
44 Charleston 20,464 29.2%
45 Metropolis 6,129 24.4%
46 Summit 11,260 17.3%
47 Peoria 113,532 19.7%
48 Maywood 23,578 15.9%
49 Jacksonville 18,859 16.5%
50 Canton 13,682 19.4%
51 Wood River 10,169 21.0%
52 East Alton 6,061 18.6%
53 Rantoul 13,218 18.3%
54 Lasalle 9,147 19.6%
55 Zion 23,858 17.2%
56 Granite City 28,612 19.3%
57 Waukegan 87,297 17.6%
58 Silvis 7,497 20.5%
59 Chicago Ridge 14,153 18.6%
60 Park City 7,396 14.7%
61 Herrin 12,827 17.2%
62 Lansing 27,904 15.5%
63 Marion 17,595 18.5%
64 Peoria Heights 5,860 17.1%
65 Hazel Crest 13,549 15.3%
66 Chicago 2,709,534 18.4%
67 Steger 9,366 13.4%
68 Robinson 7,614 13.3%
69 Justice 12,800 17.1%
70 Harvard 9,281 14.1%
71 Springfield 115,888 18.6%
72 Belvidere 25,027 16.2%
73 Pinckneyville 5,436 24.9%
74 Rock Falls 8,952 15.8%
75 Lincoln 13,652 12.8%
76 Richton Park 13,504 15.5%
77 Pontiac 11,688 18.4%
78 Paris 8,372 15.6%
79 Staunton 5,066 13.3%
80 Champaign 87,636 25.0%
81 Bridgeview 16,124 17.0%
82 Ottawa 18,792 17.1%
83 Park Forest 21,563 13.4%
84 Pontoon Beach 5,793 15.5%
85 Marseilles 5,032 15.3%
86 Clinton 7,062 13.9%
87 Belleville 41,585 14.1%
88 Quincy 40,280 15.2%
89 Northlake 12,290 16.3%
90 University Park 6,947 10.0%
91 South Holland 21,677 11.3%
92 Cicero 82,330 16.2%
93 Glenwood 8,657 13.2%
94 Creve Coeur 5,213 10.3%
95 Chillicothe 6,218 16.1%
96 Collinsville 24,626 12.6%
97 Bellwood 18,996 10.1%
98 Pekin 32,846 14.9%
99 Country Club Hills 16,758 9.1%
100 Mendota 7,057 15.1%

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