Poorest Cities In Massachusetts For 2021


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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in Massachusetts.

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.

Here are the ten poorest places in Massachusetts for 2021:

  1. Springfield
  2. Lawrence
  3. Fall River
  4. Holyoke
  5. Southbridge Town
  6. New Bedford
  7. North Adams
  8. Worcester
  9. Fitchburg
  10. Brockton

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 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best 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 2021

1. Springfield

Springfield, MA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 154,139
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $39,432 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.9% (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 154,139 people averages the 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.

2. Lawrence

Lawrence, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 79,942
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $44,613 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.4% (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 5th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the highest in the Bay State.

3. Fall River

Fall River, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 89,388
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $43,503 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.7% (7th highest)
More on Fall River:  Data | Photos

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 19.656159156976745% 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, MA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 40,241
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $40,769 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.3% (highest)
More on Holyoke:  Data | Photos

Holyoke ranks as the fourth poorest place in Massachusetts.

The town ranks as having the 2nd lowest median household income and the 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. Southbridge Town

Southbridge Town, MA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 16,887
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $51,270 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.7% (4th highest)
More on Southbridge Town:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Massachusetts is Southbridge Town.

The city ranks as having the 10th 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 Southbridge Town.

6. New Bedford

New Bedford, MA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 95,239
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $46,321 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.3% (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.

7. North Adams

North Adams, MA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 12,959
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $41,471 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (22nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.4% (8th highest)
More on North Adams:  Data | Photos

North Adams places as the seventh poorest city in Massachusetts.

The city of over 12,959 ranks as having the 8th 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. Worcester

Worcester, MA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 185,143
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $48,139 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (2highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.0% (6th highest)
More on Worcester:  Data | Photos

Worcester ranks as the eighth poorest city in Massachusetts.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 2highest in the state.

9. Fitchburg

Fitchburg, MA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 40,702
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $57,207 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.7% (13th highest)
More on Fitchburg:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 17th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Fitchburg ranks as having the 13th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Massachusetts.

10. Brockton

Brockton, MA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 95,594
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $58,469 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.3% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 14.8% (15th highest)
More on Brockton:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 95,594 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 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 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 2021". You can download the data here.

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

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: Newburyport

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Massachusetts

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Springfield 154,139 26.9%
2 Lawrence 79,942 21.4%
3 Fall River 89,388 19.7%
4 Holyoke 40,241 29.3%
5 Southbridge Town 16,887 20.7%
6 New Bedford 95,239 20.3%
7 North Adams 12,959 19.4%
8 Worcester 185,143 20.0%
9 Fitchburg 40,702 15.7%
10 Brockton 95,594 14.8%
11 Lynn 93,743 16.6%
12 Lowell 111,306 19.0%
13 Chicopee 55,421 13.8%
14 Taunton 57,124 14.2%
15 Boston 684,379 18.9%
16 Pittsfield 42,766 13.4%
17 Chelsea 39,992 18.1%
18 Leominster 41,606 12.6%
19 West Springfield Town 28,609 11.3%
20 Palmer Town 12,237 11.3%
21 Greenfield Town 17,375 11.4%
22 Revere 53,692 12.7%
23 Gardner 20,610 13.9%
24 Easthampton Town 15,960 9.2%
25 Malden 60,984 15.5%
26 Everett 46,118 12.6%
27 Haverhill 63,533 12.5%
28 Salem 43,252 14.7%
29 Methuen Town 50,282 9.2%
30 Northampton 28,516 13.7%
31 Quincy 94,207 11.3%
32 Gloucester 30,162 10.0%
33 Westfield 41,449 7.2%
34 Attleboro 44,789 8.6%
35 Barnstable Town 44,406 7.9%
36 Cambridge 116,632 12.7%
37 Weymouth Town 56,734 6.0%
38 Peabody 52,906 8.6%
39 Agawam Town 28,696 7.9%
40 Winthrop Town 18,542 8.8%
41 Beverly 41,885 9.3%
42 Somerville 80,906 11.5%
43 Marlborough 39,736 5.6%
44 Amesbury Town 17,434 6.3%
45 Waltham 62,777 9.3%
46 Medford 57,637 8.8%
47 Watertown Town 35,401 7.6%
48 Woburn 40,304 6.3%
49 Franklin Town 33,256 4.0%
50 Braintree Town 37,220 4.6%
51 Newburyport 18,077 5.9%
52 Melrose 28,113 4.1%
53 Newton 88,593 4.3%

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