These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Kansas For 2019

We analyzed the cities and towns in Kansas to determine which ones are at the bottom of the income ladder.

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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 Kansas.

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

However, like all states, Kansas 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 Kansas 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 Kansas with more than 5,000 people.

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

  1. Coffeyville (Photos)
  2. Atchison (Photos)
  3. Emporia (Photos)
  4. Kansas City (Photos)
  5. Pittsburg (Photos)
  6. Arkansas City (Photos)
  7. Parsons (Photos)
  8. El Dorado (Photos)
  9. Iola (Photos)
  10. Liberal (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, Coffeyville is the poorest place in Kansas for 2019.

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

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Kansas 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 61 places with more than 5,000 people in Kansas, 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, Coffeyville, crowned the “Poorest Place In Kansas For 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 61 places.

Coffeyville, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,706
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,080 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.2% (2nd highest)
More on Coffeyville:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 9,706 people averages the 4th lowest median household income in Kansas 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.

Atchison, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,727
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $41,268 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.0% (5th highest)
More on Atchison:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Kansas is Atchison.

The city ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and 11th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 1st highest in the Sunflower State.

Emporia, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 24,636
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $37,676 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.8% (7th highest)
More on Emporia:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Emporia’s median income ranks as the 6th 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 22.8% 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 Sunflower State.

Kansas City, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 151,042
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $41,671 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.3% (8th highest)
More on Kansas City:  Data | Photos

Kansas City ranks as the fourth poorest place in Kansas.

The town ranks as having the 12th lowest median household income and the 8th 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.

Pittsburg, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,278
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $31,948 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (21st highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.6% (1st highest)
More on Pittsburg:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Kansas is Pittsburg.

The city ranks as having the 2nd 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 1st highest in Kansas.

Still not the best news for Pittsburg.

Arkansas City, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 12,055
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $38,958 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.9% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.5% (12th highest)
More on Arkansas City:  Data | Photos

Arkansas City ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Sunflower State.

It ranks as having the 12th highest incidence of poverty and the 10th highest unemployment rate.

Parsons, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,964
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $40,457 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (18th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.1% (6th highest)
More on Parsons:  Data | Photos

Parsons places as the seventh poorest city in Kansas.

The city of over 9,964 ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

El Dorado, KS

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,003
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Median Income: $42,661 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.5% (12th highest)
More on El Dorado:  Data | Photos

El Dorado ranks as the eighth poorest city in Kansas.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 13th highest in the state.

Iola, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,459
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $35,560 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (28th highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.1% (10th highest)
More on Iola:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 3rd lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Iola ranks as having the 10th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Kansas.

Liberal, KS

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 20,607
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Income: $47,459 (25th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.6% (14th highest)
More on Liberal:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Kansas is Liberal.

The city of 20,607 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Sunflower State.

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

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

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 Kansas, according to data:

    Richest: Prairie Village
    2nd Richest: Leawood
    3rd Richest: Bel Aire

For more Kansas reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Kansas

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Coffeyville 9,706 26.2%
2 Atchison 10,727 24.0%
3 Emporia 24,636 22.8%
4 Kansas City 151,042 22.3%
5 Pittsburg 20,278 28.6%
6 Arkansas City 12,055 20.5%
7 Parsons 9,964 23.1%
8 El Dorado 13,003 20.5%
9 Iola 5,459 21.1%
10 Liberal 20,607 19.6%
11 Chanute 9,146 26.1%
12 Concordia 5,198 14.1%
13 Dodge City 27,961 18.2%
14 Ottawa 12,321 15.8%
15 Independence 8,983 20.6%
16 Junction City 24,336 16.6%
17 Manhattan 55,427 25.4%
18 Wellington 7,878 16.1%
19 Topeka 127,139 16.7%
20 Great Bend 15,686 18.5%
21 Hutchinson 41,316 16.7%
22 Winfield 12,180 17.8%
23 Wichita 389,054 16.9%
24 Fort Scott 7,822 18.7%
25 Lawrence 93,954 21.8%
26 Augusta 9,339 12.2%
27 Hays 20,938 19.5%
28 Bonner Springs 7,644 10.1%
29 Garden City 26,900 16.2%
30 Salina 47,513 13.8%
31 Pratt 6,841 12.9%
32 De Soto 6,042 10.4%
33 Eudora 6,272 11.7%
34 Leavenworth 35,958 14.6%
35 Ulysses 5,892 11.7%
36 Abilene 6,487 11.5%
37 Haysville 11,489 8.4%
38 Colby 5,365 12.6%
39 Newton 18,972 13.3%
40 Paola 5,583 12.2%
41 Park City 7,512 8.2%
42 Roeland Park 6,810 6.5%
43 Merriam 11,259 9.2%
44 Mcpherson 13,089 8.4%
45 Spring Hill 6,064 6.9%
46 Basehor 5,401 4.9%
47 Tonganoxie 5,088 5.9%
48 Mission 9,445 7.1%
49 Shawnee 64,840 6.9%
50 Olathe 134,368 6.1%
51 Overland Park 186,147 5.8%
52 Derby 23,712 5.3%
53 Lansing 11,771 5.1%
54 Lenexa 52,030 5.4%
55 Gardner 21,059 4.3%
56 Mulvane 5,413 4.4%
57 Valley Center 6,507 4.4%
58 Andover 12,661 5.6%
59 Bel Aire 7,422 4.5%
60 Leawood 34,195 1.9%
61 Prairie Village 21,932 3.8%

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.


One thought on “These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Kansas For 2019

  1. I think you totally missed Manchester Kansas on this list. Either that, or you’re only looking at towns with names people would recognize. Some of the places on your list are tourist traps or college towns and only have income during those seasons. So yes I can understand where you are coming from but they should not be making the poorest list by any means.

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