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:
- Springfield (Photos)
- Lawrence (Photos)
- Fall River (Photos)
- Holyoke (Photos)
- New Bedford (Photos)
- North Adams (Photos)
- Worcester (Photos)
- Lowell (Photos)
- Pittsfield (Photos)
- 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.
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.
Population: 153,991Median Income: $35,742
Unemployment Rate: 12.4%
Poverty Rate: 29.7%
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.
Population: 79,337Median Income: $36,754
Unemployment Rate: 13.8%
Poverty Rate: 26.4%
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
Population: 88,902Median Income: $36,798
Unemployment Rate: 12.3%
Poverty Rate: 22.0%
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.
Population: 40,280Median Income: $38,829
Unemployment Rate: 10.7%
Poverty Rate: 28.6%
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.
5. New Bedford
Population: 94,988Median Income: $38,178
Unemployment Rate: 10.3%
Poverty Rate: 23.5%
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.
6. North Adams
Population: 13,326Median Income: $32,804
Unemployment Rate: 11.1%
Poverty Rate: 18.9%
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.
Population: 183,677Median Income: $45,599
Unemployment Rate: 8.8%
Poverty Rate: 22.1%
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.
Population: 109,871Median Income: $46,972
Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
Poverty Rate: 21.5%
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.
Population: 43,632Median Income: $45,206
Unemployment Rate: 9.9%
Poverty Rate: 16.7%
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.
Population: 40,441Median Income: $50,617
Unemployment Rate: 10.7%
Poverty Rate: 19.1%
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:
2nd Richest: Newton
3rd Richest: Franklin Town
For more Massachusetts reading , check out:
Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Massachusetts
|West Springfield Town||18|