Poorest Cities In Maine For 2021


We analyzed the cities and towns in Maine 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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in Maine.

Maine brings to mind images of Augusta, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 21 places in Maine with more than 2,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Maine for 2021:

  1. Calais
  2. Augusta
  3. Waterville
  4. Bangor
  5. Gardiner
  6. Old Town
  7. Lewiston
  8. Rockland
  9. Caribou
  10. Westbrook

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 Maine? According to the facts, Calais is the poorest place in Maine for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best places in Maine 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 Maine reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Maine For 2021

1. Calais

Calais, ME

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,993
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Median Income: $32,601 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.5% (7th highest)
More on Calais:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 2,993 people averages the lowest median household income in Maine and the 7th 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. Augusta

Augusta, ME

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 18,605
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $43,796 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.8% (4th highest)
More on Augusta:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Maine is Augusta.

The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 6th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 6th highest in the Pine Tree State.

3. Waterville

Waterville, ME

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 16,577
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Income: $38,862 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.2% (2nd highest)
More on Waterville:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Waterville'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 21.178332989194022% 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 Pine Tree State.

4. Bangor

Bangor, ME

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 32,095
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 3)
Median Income: $46,625 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.9% (3rd highest)
More on Bangor:  Data | Photos

Bangor ranks as the fourth poorest place in Maine.

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.

5. Gardiner

Gardiner, ME

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,657
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $49,627 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.5% (6th highest)
More on Gardiner:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Maine is Gardiner.

The city ranks as having the 11th 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 Maine.

Still not the best news for Gardiner.

6. Old Town

Old Town, ME

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,474
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 5)
Median Income: $42,679 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.5% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.4% (highest)
More on Old Town:  Data | Photos

Old Town ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Pine Tree State.

It ranks as having the highest incidence of poverty and the 15th highest unemployment rate.

7. Lewiston

Lewiston, ME

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 36,095
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $44,523 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.1% (5th highest)
More on Lewiston:  Data | Photos

Lewiston places as the seventh poorest city in Maine.

The city of over 36,095 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.

8. Rockland

Rockland, ME

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,178
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $44,156 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 13.7% (14th highest)
More on Rockland:  Data | Photos

Rockland ranks as the eighth poorest city in Maine.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 5th highest in the state.

9. Caribou

Caribou, ME

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,710
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $42,671 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.5% (8th highest)
More on Caribou:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 4th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Caribou ranks as having the 8th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Maine.

10. Westbrook

Westbrook, ME

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 18,633
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $59,460 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.3% (9th highest)
More on Westbrook:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Maine is Westbrook.

The city of 18,633 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Pine Tree State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Maine 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 21 places with more than 2,000 people in Maine, we ranked each place from 1 to 21 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, Calais, crowned the "Poorest Place In Maine For 2021". You can download the data here.

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

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

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 Maine, according to data:

    Richest: Saco
    2nd Richest: Ellsworth
    3rd Richest: South Portland

For more Maine reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Maine

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Calais 2,993 16.5%
2 Augusta 18,605 18.8%
3 Waterville 16,577 21.2%
4 Bangor 32,095 18.9%
5 Gardiner 5,657 17.5%
6 Old Town 7,474 22.4%
7 Lewiston 36,095 18.1%
8 Rockland 7,178 13.7%
9 Caribou 7,710 16.5%
10 Westbrook 18,633 16.3%
11 Presque Isle 9,116 16.2%
12 Belfast 6,688 13.5%
13 Hallowell 2,445 14.5%
14 Brewer 9,090 12.5%
15 Biddeford 21,462 11.7%
16 Bath 8,319 13.8%
17 Portland 66,595 14.6%
18 Auburn 23,187 11.3%
19 South Portland 25,548 8.8%
20 Ellsworth 7,991 9.8%
21 Saco 19,497 7.3%

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