These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Maine For 2018


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

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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.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Pine Tree State for 2018:

  1. Waterville (Photos)
  2. Old Town (Photos)
  3. Bangor (Photos)
  4. Belfast (Photos)
  5. Lewiston (Photos)
  6. Augusta (Photos)
  7. Presque Isle (Photos)
  8. Calais (Photos)
  9. Rockland (Photos)
  10. Caribou (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, Waterville is the poorest place in Maine for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest 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.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Maine For 2018

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 2012-2016 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, Waterville, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Maine For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 21 places.

1. Waterville

Waterville, Maine

Population: 16,134
Median Income: $32,403
Unemployment Rate: 11.5%
Poverty Rate: 24.0%
More on Waterville: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 16,134 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Maine 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.

User comment that mentions Waterville: As a person who was born and lived in Worcester Massachusetts, I can say without doubt that the worst city in Maine is still far better than most of the cities in Massachusetts in all aspects but access to jobs, which is the biggest problem Maine has. It is silly to measure education by how much is spent per student. The quality of the teacher and the involvement of the parents is the deciding factor in a child’s education. Money spent per student could be considered to show throwing money at problems trying to fix them with the result of getting very little return in reference to actual improvement in student retained knowledge and test scores. ||||Population density is another flawed measurement. You assume that indoor entertainment’ is the criteria a majority of Maine residence value in a city. This cannot be taken seriously because if that was the case, why would people from out of state leave their bastions of indoor entertainment and flock to Maine in the summer- The amount of camouflage clothing seen and pickup trucks registered in the state of Maine should be a very significant clue as to what many actual value in a city:||Access to Maine’s natural and most profitable resource, OUTDOOR ENTERTAINMENT. ||||Crime rate is a legitimate measurement but again flawed. Compared to cities in other states of New England, the crime rate is merely a blip on the screen. Also when a per capita measurement is used, it does not consider WHERE in each city you live. If you live in a high crime rate part of a city known to most of us as a’bad neighborhood’, you will have a higher risk of being a victim than in other parts of the same city. I live in Waterville and I do lock my doors at night but that is out of habit from living in Worcester, not fear of being robbed in Waterville. ||||There is no doubt most cities in Maine need a better economic situation. Only jobs will fix this issue. It is Maine’s only shortcoming. The quality of the people living in a city is its only true measurement. Honest, hard working, down to earth, and a bit eccentric people are the qualities that make a Mainer a Mainer, and what I strive to be as a transplant. This is the majority of the population in every city. Therefor no city in Maine is a bad city.’

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

2. Old Town

Old Town, Maine

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,655
Median Income: $35,385
Unemployment Rate: 8.0%
Poverty Rate: 27.0%
More on Old Town: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Maine is Old Town.

The city ranks as having the 1st highest incidence of poverty and 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 3rd highest in the Pine Tree State.

3. Bangor

Bangor, Maine

Source: Public domain

Population: 32,491
Median Income: $37,987
Unemployment Rate: 7.9%
Poverty Rate: 25.1%
More on Bangor: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Bangor’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 25.1% 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. Belfast

Belfast, Maine

Population: 6,641
Median Income: $40,625
Unemployment Rate: 9.8%
Poverty Rate: 22.6%
More on Belfast: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Belfast ranks as the fourth poorest place in Maine.

The town ranks as having the 9th lowest median household income and the 4th 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. Lewiston

Lewiston, Maine

Source: Public domain

Population: 36,277
Median Income: $38,199
Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
Poverty Rate: 22.2%
More on Lewiston: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Maine is Lewiston.

The city ranks as having the 7th 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 5th highest in Maine.

Still not the best news for Lewiston.

6. Augusta

Augusta, Maine

Population: 18,691
Median Income: $40,555
Unemployment Rate: 7.4%
Poverty Rate: 21.8%
More on Augusta: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Augusta ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Pine Tree State.

It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 5th highest unemployment rate.

User comment that mentions Augusta: Your data is flawed by its incompleteness. Anyone can make a list like this come out any way they wish if the skew the data input. I have lived in Augusta, raised three children all to productive adulthood, coached at all levels of baseball and find that our city government is approachable, diligent and trustworthy. We are a religious center for all religions to peacefully worship as they choose or not. The restaurants are second to none and shopping is both big-box and VERY MUCH local, as well. Nope! I think your data is definitely flawed, skewed and holds no real value in deciding where in Maine to live. But, hey, thanks for trying.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

7. Presque Isle

Presque Isle, Maine

Population: 9,298
Median Income: $36,789
Unemployment Rate: 5.5%
Poverty Rate: 22.2%
More on Presque Isle: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Presque Isle places as the seventh poorest city in Maine.

The city of over 9,298 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. Calais

Calais, Maine

Population: 3,018
Median Income: $32,885
Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
Poverty Rate: 20.7%
More on Calais: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Calais ranks as the eighth poorest city in Maine.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 17th highest in the state.

9. Rockland

Rockland, Maine

Population: 7,220
Median Income: $40,987
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Poverty Rate: 13.7%
More on Rockland: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

While the median income is the 10th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Rockland ranks as having the 16th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Maine.

User comment that mentions Rockland: Well, it’s neither informative or entertainment. You krep drinking your brandy.’ You from Rockland-‘

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

10. Caribou

Caribou, Maine

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,902
Median Income: $35,635
Unemployment Rate: 4.7%
Poverty Rate: 18.3%
More on Caribou: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 7,902 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Pine Tree State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Maine For 2018

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: Brewer
3rd Richest: Hallowell

For more Maine reading , check out:

  • 10 Safest Places In Maine
  • 10 Best Places To Live In Maine
  • 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Maine
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Maine

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Waterville 24.0%
    2 Old Town 27.0%
    3 Bangor 25.1%
    4 Belfast 22.6%
    5 Lewiston 22.2%
    6 Augusta 21.8%
    7 Presque Isle 22.2%
    8 Calais 20.7%
    9 Rockland 13.7%
    10 Caribou 18.3%
    11 Westbrook 17.4%
    12 Bath 19.9%
    13 Biddeford 18.1%
    14 Portland 19.2%
    15 Gardiner 19.8%
    16 Ellsworth 12.6%
    17 Auburn 14.8%
    18 South Portland 12.3%
    19 Hallowell 10.2%
    20 Brewer 7.5%
    21 Saco 7.6%

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