Like all states, Illinois has certain places that are going on hard times. These Illinois places have an above-average percentage of people living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.
Even as the economy continues to improve, it’s worthwhile to look at the places in each state struggling to make ends meet. So we set our sites on locating the poorest places in Illinois.
To do so, we used Saturday Night Science to analyze the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 332 cities in Illinois with more than 5,000 people.
What’s the poorest city in Illinois? According to the facts, Carbondale is the poorest place in Illinois for 2023.
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.
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Illinois
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The 10 Poorest Cities In Illinois For 2023
Carbondale, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Illinois thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 22,388 people averages the lowest median household income in Illinois and the 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 Cahokia.
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 20th highest in the Prairie State.
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 29.29178470254957% 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.
West Frankfort ranks as the fourth poorest place in Illinois.
The town ranks as having the 9th lowest median household income and the 3rd 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.
The fifth poorest city in Illinois is Harvey.
The city ranks as having the 6th 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 7th highest in Illinois.
Still not the best news for Harvey.
Riverdale ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Prairie State.
It ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and the highest unemployment rate.
Macomb places as the seventh poorest city in Illinois.
The city of over 15,681 ranks as having the 14th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Urbana ranks as the eighth poorest city in Illinois.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 103rd highest in the state.
Kankakee couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Illinois; 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, Kankakee ranks as having the 9th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Illinois.
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Illinois is Pinckneyville.
The city of 5,262 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Prairie State.
Methodology: How We Determined The Poorest Places In Illinois for 2023
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 used Saturday Night Science to look at this set of criteria from the newly released 2017-2021 American Community Survey:
- Poverty Level
- Median Household Income
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, Carbondale, crowned the “Poorest Place In Illinois For 2023”.
This report has been updated for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the poorest places in Illinois.
Summary: The Poorest Cities In Illinois For 2023
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: Hawthorn Woods
2nd Richest: Hinsdale
3rd Richest: Long Grove
For more Illinois reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In Illinois
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- Worst Places To Live In Illinois
- Most Expensive Places To Live In Illinois
Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Illinois
|Rank||City||Population||Poverty Rate||Median Income||People In Poverty|
|3||East St. Louis||19,437||29.3%||$26,011||5,693|