Poorest Cities In Massachusetts For 2020


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

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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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the poorest places in Massachusetts.

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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.

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 Massachusetts? According to the facts, Springfield is the poorest place in Massachusetts for 2020.

Rich people more 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.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Massachusetts For 2020

Springfield, MA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 154,596
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,730 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.6% (2nd highest)
More on Springfield:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 154,596 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Massachusetts 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.

Lawrence, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 79,841
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $41,583 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.7% (3rd highest)
More on Lawrence:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Massachusetts is Lawrence.

The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 2nd highest in the Bay State.

Holyoke, MA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 40,376
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Income: $40,656 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.7% (1st highest)
More on Holyoke:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Holyoke's median income ranks as the 3rd 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 29.656262749898% 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.

Fall River, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 89,339
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $41,585 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.4% (8th highest)
More on Fall River:  Data | Photos

Fall River ranks as the fourth poorest place in Massachusetts.

The town ranks as having the 5th 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.

North Adams, MA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 13,089
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $39,411 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.5% (11th highest)
More on North Adams:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Massachusetts is North Adams.

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 11th highest in Massachusetts.

Still not the best news for North Adams.

New Bedford, MA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 95,117
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $43,989 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.1% (5th highest)
More on New Bedford:  Data | Photos

New Bedford ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Bay State.

It ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and the 11th highest unemployment rate.

Worcester, MA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 185,195
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $46,407 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.1% (4th highest)
More on Worcester:  Data | Photos

Worcester places as the seventh poorest city in Massachusetts.

The city of over 185,195 ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Southbridge Town, MA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 16,894
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $50,787 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.2% (9th highest)
More on Southbridge Town:  Data | Photos

Southbridge Town ranks as the eighth poorest city in Massachusetts.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 7th highest in the state.

Lowell, MA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 111,249
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Income: $51,987 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.7% (6th highest)
More on Lowell:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 14th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Lowell ranks as having the 6th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Massachusetts.

Fitchburg, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 40,737
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Income: $55,277 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.1% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.4% (13th highest)
More on Fitchburg:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 40,737 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Bay State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Massachusetts for 2020

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 2014-2018 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 2020". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Massachusetts For 2020

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

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Massachusetts

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Springfield 154,596 28.6%
2 Lawrence 79,841 23.7%
3 Holyoke 40,376 29.7%
4 Fall River 89,339 19.4%
5 North Adams 13,089 17.5%
6 New Bedford 95,117 21.1%
7 Worcester 185,195 21.1%
8 Southbridge Town 16,894 19.2%
9 Lowell 111,249 20.7%
10 Fitchburg 40,737 16.4%
11 Pittsfield 43,058 14.6%
12 Brockton 95,426 15.6%
13 Chicopee 55,661 15.3%
14 Boston 679,413 20.2%
15 Lynn 93,617 17.3%
16 Greenfield Town 17,468 13.2%
17 Gardner 20,555 15.0%
18 Chelsea 39,852 18.8%
19 West Springfield Town 28,666 11.7%
20 Taunton 56,963 13.8%
21 Northampton 28,568 16.2%
22 Leominster 41,579 13.3%
23 Malden 61,094 16.4%
24 Revere 53,966 13.1%
25 Palmer Town 12,251 12.5%
26 Everett 45,856 13.3%
27 Haverhill 63,280 13.2%
28 Easthampton Town 16,023 9.6%
29 Gloucester 30,049 9.0%
30 Salem 43,302 15.1%
31 Methuen Town 50,019 9.3%
32 Weymouth Town 56,384 6.2%
33 Westfield 41,599 7.3%
34 Quincy 94,121 10.8%
35 Attleboro 44,548 8.9%
36 Peabody 52,865 10.0%
37 Winthrop Town 18,535 9.9%
38 Barnstable Town 44,314 8.7%
39 Cambridge 115,665 13.2%
40 Waltham 62,979 10.9%
41 Somerville 80,434 11.9%
42 Agawam Town 28,744 8.1%
43 Marlborough 39,776 6.3%
44 Beverly 41,731 8.2%
45 Braintree Town 37,207 4.7%
46 Medford 57,771 9.2%
47 Amesbury Town 17,378 6.2%
48 Watertown Town 35,103 7.9%
49 Woburn 40,298 5.8%
50 Newburyport 17,990 5.2%
51 Franklin Town 33,022 4.0%
52 Melrose 28,116 4.1%
53 Newton 88,660 4.3%

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