These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Massachusetts For 2018

We used science and data to determine which places in Massachusetts are basically dead broke.

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

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 53 places in Massachusetts with more than 12,000 people.

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

  1. Springfield (Photos)
  2. Lawrence (Photos)
  3. Fall River (Photos)
  4. Holyoke (Photos)
  5. New Bedford (Photos)
  6. North Adams (Photos)
  7. Worcester (Photos)
  8. Lowell (Photos)
  9. Pittsfield (Photos)
  10. Fitchburg (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, Springfield is the poorest place in Massachusetts for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts 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 53 places with more than 12,000 people in Massachusetts, we ranked each place from 1 to 53 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, Springfield, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Massachusetts For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 53 places.

1. Springfield

Springfield, Massachusetts

Population: 153,991
Median Income: $35,742
Unemployment Rate: 12.4%
Poverty Rate: 29.7%
More on Springfield: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 153,991 people averages the 2nd lowest median household income in Massachusetts and the 1st 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 Springfield: Why isn’t Springfield and Lawrence on here- They are by far the worst in Massachusetts. And alot of the facts’ written about some of these towns are not correct.’

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

2. Lawrence

Lawrence, Massachusetts

Source: Public domain

Population: 79,337
Median Income: $36,754
Unemployment Rate: 13.8%
Poverty Rate: 26.4%
More on Lawrence: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Massachusetts is Lawrence.

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

3. Fall River

Fall River, Massachusetts

Source: Public domain

Population: 88,902
Median Income: $36,798
Unemployment Rate: 12.3%
Poverty Rate: 22.0%
More on Fall River: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Fall River’s median income ranks as the 4th 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 22.0% 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 Bay State.

4. Holyoke

Holyoke, Massachusetts

Population: 40,280
Median Income: $38,829
Unemployment Rate: 10.7%
Poverty Rate: 28.6%
More on Holyoke: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Holyoke ranks as the fourth poorest place in Massachusetts.

The town ranks as having the 6th lowest median household income and the 2nd 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.

User comment that mentions Holyoke: im from holyoke and lowell and those places suck lol thats why I got out of mass the armpit of this country.

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

5. New Bedford

New Bedford, Massachusetts

Population: 94,988
Median Income: $38,178
Unemployment Rate: 10.3%
Poverty Rate: 23.5%
More on New Bedford: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Massachusetts is New Bedford.

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 4th highest in Massachusetts.

Still not the best news for New Bedford.

User comment that mentions New Bedford: How New Bedford & Fall River seemed to not make this list is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are wonderful homes & families & children in every city listed & cities not listed, but some of these cities are being destroyed by poverty, crime, drugs, schools failing, etc. Let’s help clean up our side of the street & our cities everyone. It takes a village.

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

6. North Adams

North Adams, Massachusetts

Population: 13,326
Median Income: $32,804
Unemployment Rate: 11.1%
Poverty Rate: 18.9%
More on North Adams: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

North Adams ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Bay State.

It ranks as having the 13th highest incidence of poverty and the 4th highest unemployment rate.

User comment that mentions North Adams: Um, what North Adams do you live in– I can almost compare North Adams, to Springfield for slummy apartments, run down buildings and quite a few other things that need improvement. Yes, I agree about the community events, but the neighborhoods aren’t all the beautiful, especially when you look at the town as a whole, and affordable- It’s not the greatest in the state. I’ve lived in many places throughout the state, and unfortunately, I had to cross over to Vermont to be able to survive, which left me with less money. At first I thought North Adams was a decent area and reasonably affordable. I did better in Vermont because of health care costs, and I was able to afford rent easier. Now I’m working on going back to Springfield area.

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

7. Worcester

Worcester, Massachusetts

Population: 183,677
Median Income: $45,599
Unemployment Rate: 8.8%
Poverty Rate: 22.1%
More on Worcester: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Worcester places as the seventh poorest city in Massachusetts.

The city of over 183,677 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. Lowell

Lowell, Massachusetts

Population: 109,871
Median Income: $46,972
Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
Poverty Rate: 21.5%
More on Lowell: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Lowell ranks as the eighth poorest city in Massachusetts.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 10th highest in the state.


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

9. Pittsfield

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Population: 43,632
Median Income: $45,206
Unemployment Rate: 9.9%
Poverty Rate: 16.7%
More on Pittsfield: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Pittsfield couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Massachusetts; 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, Pittsfield ranks as having the 15th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Massachusetts.

10. Fitchburg

Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Source: Public domain

Population: 40,441
Median Income: $50,617
Unemployment Rate: 10.7%
Poverty Rate: 19.1%
More on Fitchburg: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Massachusetts is Fitchburg.

The city of 40,441 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Bay State.

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

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

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 Massachusetts, according to data:

Richest: Melrose
2nd Richest: Newton
3rd Richest: Franklin Town

For more Massachusetts reading , check out:

  • 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Massachusetts
  • 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Massachusetts
  • 10 Safest Places In Massachusetts
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Massachusetts

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Springfield 29.7%
    2 Lawrence 26.4%
    3 Fall River 22.0%
    4 Holyoke 28.6%
    5 New Bedford 23.5%
    6 North Adams 18.9%
    7 Worcester 22.1%
    8 Lowell 21.5%
    9 Pittsfield 16.7%
    10 Fitchburg 19.1%
    11 Brockton 18.2%
    12 Southbridge Town 16.4%
    13 Lynn 20.0%
    14 Chelsea 19.3%
    15 Gardner 19.0%
    16 Chicopee 14.5%
    17 Boston 21.1%
    18 West Springfield Town 13.2%
    19 Palmer Town 13.0%
    20 Revere 13.1%
    21 Malden 15.3%
    22 Everett 14.6%
    23 Greenfield Town 13.1%
    24 Taunton 12.5%
    25 Leominster 13.7%
    26 Salem 15.2%
    27 Northampton 15.8%
    28 Haverhill 12.8%
    29 Easthampton Town 10.6%
    30 Westfield 9.6%
    31 Attleboro 10.4%
    32 Methuen Town 10.3%
    33 Barnstable Town 10.7%
    34 Quincy 10.3%
    35 Weymouth Town 7.6%
    36 Gloucester 8.2%
    37 Cambridge 14.0%
    38 Somerville 13.3%
    39 Agawam Town 9.3%
    40 Medford 10.5%
    41 Winthrop Town 9.3%
    42 Peabody 8.2%
    43 Beverly 7.7%
    44 Braintree Town 5.8%
    45 Waltham 10.0%
    46 Newburyport 7.8%
    47 Watertown Town 8.3%
    48 Marlborough 7.2%
    49 Amesbury Town 5.6%
    50 Woburn 7.2%
    51 Franklin Town 4.2%
    52 Newton 4.4%
    53 Melrose 3.8%

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