Poorest Cities In Missouri For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in Missouri 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 Missouri.

Missouri brings to mind images of Jefferson City, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 132 places in Missouri with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Missouri for 2021:

  1. Charleston
  2. Poplar Bluff
  3. Caruthersville
  4. Kirksville
  5. Clinton
  6. Jennings
  7. Osage Beach
  8. Park Hills
  9. Berkeley
  10. Rolla

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 Missouri? According to the facts, Charleston is the poorest place in Missouri for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best places in Missouri 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 Missouri reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Missouri For 2021

1. Charleston

Charleston, MO

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,614
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $30,573 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.7% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.9% (2nd highest)
More on Charleston:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 5,614 people averages the 2nd lowest median household income in Missouri 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. Poplar Bluff

Poplar Bluff, MO

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 17,023
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $30,370 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.4% (highest)
More on Poplar Bluff:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Missouri is Poplar Bluff.

The city ranks as having the highest incidence of poverty and lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 10th highest in the Show Me State.

3. Caruthersville

Caruthersville, MO

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

1
/10

Population: 5,616
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Median Income: $31,322 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.0% (12th highest)
More on Caruthersville:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Caruthersville'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 25.98425196850393% 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 Show Me State.

4. Kirksville

Kirksville, MO

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 17,554
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $33,575 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (20th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.8% (3rd highest)
More on Kirksville:  Data | Photos

Kirksville ranks as the fourth poorest place in Missouri.

The town ranks as having the 6th lowest median household income and the 3rd 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. Clinton

Clinton, MO

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 9,118
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $38,233 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.2% (11th highest)
More on Clinton:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Missouri is Clinton.

The city ranks as having the 19th 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 Missouri.

Still not the best news for Clinton.

6. Jennings

Jennings, MO

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 14,712
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $33,425 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.8% (34th highest)
More on Jennings:  Data | Photos

Jennings ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Show Me State.

It ranks as having the 34th highest incidence of poverty and the 7th highest unemployment rate.

7. Osage Beach

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,080
Rank Last Year: -
Median Income: $39,137 (23rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (17th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.6% (7th highest)
More on Osage Beach:  Data

Osage Beach places as the seventh poorest city in Missouri.

The city of over 5,080 ranks as having the 7th 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. Park Hills

Park Hills, MO

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,544
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $35,825 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (27th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.6% (10th highest)
More on Park Hills:  Data | Photos

Park Hills ranks as the eighth poorest city in Missouri.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 27th highest in the state.

9. Berkeley

Berkeley, MO

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,927
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Median Income: $33,185 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.8% (48th highest)
More on Berkeley:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 4th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Berkeley ranks as having the 48th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Missouri.

10. Rolla

Rolla, MO

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 20,169
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Median Income: $37,600 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (40th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.8% (6th highest)
More on Rolla:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Missouri is Rolla.

The city of 20,169 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Show Me State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Missouri 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 132 places with more than 5,000 people in Missouri, we ranked each place from 1 to 132 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, Charleston, crowned the "Poorest Place In Missouri For 2021". You can download the data here.

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

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

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 Missouri, according to data:

    Richest: Des Peres
    2nd Richest: Ladue
    3rd Richest: Glendale

For more Missouri reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Missouri

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Charleston 5,614 31.9%
2 Poplar Bluff 17,023 33.4%
3 Caruthersville 5,616 26.0%
4 Kirksville 17,554 30.8%
5 Clinton 9,118 26.2%
6 Jennings 14,712 18.8%
7 Osage Beach 5,080 28.6%
8 Park Hills 8,544 26.6%
9 Berkeley 8,927 16.8%
10 Rolla 20,169 28.8%
11 Ferguson 20,738 23.2%
12 Kennett 10,062 25.1%
13 De Soto 6,380 18.5%
14 Sedalia 21,633 19.4%
15 Carthage 14,708 26.6%
16 Bowling Green 5,516 16.8%
17 Springfield 167,051 22.9%
18 Moberly 13,707 21.2%
19 St. Louis 308,174 21.8%
20 Bellefontaine Neighbors 10,517 20.4%
21 Sullivan 6,564 19.2%
22 Macon 5,358 15.1%
23 Lebanon 14,652 20.4%
24 Maryville 11,696 30.4%
25 Marshfield 7,318 18.6%
26 Hannibal 17,320 18.5%
27 Aurora 7,438 12.0%
28 Dexter 7,862 25.2%
29 Warrensburg 20,139 23.7%
30 Sikeston 16,200 24.2%
31 Joplin 50,386 18.2%
32 Dellwood 5,013 18.2%
33 Harrisonville 10,043 17.6%
34 Waynesville 5,257 19.6%
35 Nevada 8,317 18.2%
36 Mexico 11,543 17.4%
37 Cape Girardeau 39,566 23.0%
38 Neosho 11,990 23.8%
39 St. Ann 12,744 16.2%
40 Webb City 11,721 18.0%
41 Fulton 12,779 19.7%
42 St. Joseph 75,913 18.7%
43 Monett 8,984 24.3%
44 West Plains 12,233 27.6%
45 Black Jack 6,932 14.5%
46 Columbia 121,230 21.8%
47 Overland 15,715 13.4%
48 Bolivar 10,880 16.6%
49 Bonne Terre 7,165 14.8%
50 Warrenton 8,226 20.5%
51 Grandview 25,069 14.6%
52 Chillicothe 9,162 22.6%
53 Independence 117,084 15.1%
54 Florissant 51,455 11.1%
55 Pacific 6,339 14.7%
56 Valley Park 6,799 12.7%
57 St. John 6,396 11.8%
58 Pleasant Hill 8,510 14.0%
59 Boonville 8,418 13.2%
60 Branson 11,416 16.7%
61 Kansas City 486,404 16.1%
62 Marshall 12,949 19.8%
63 Pevely 5,893 15.8%
64 Trenton 5,770 18.0%
65 Hazelwood 25,319 11.5%
66 Excelsior Springs 11,640 11.7%
67 Gladstone 27,126 11.9%
68 University City 34,498 16.7%
69 Farmington 18,515 11.9%
70 Jackson 14,872 9.4%
71 Bridgeton 11,606 11.6%
72 St. Robert 6,122 29.8%
73 Festus 11,982 7.7%
74 Cameron 9,665 13.9%
75 Raytown 29,264 12.0%
76 Richmond 5,628 17.5%
77 Jefferson City 42,919 12.9%
78 Union 11,475 11.3%
79 Perryville 8,451 10.6%
80 Ozark 19,767 11.2%
81 Arnold 21,146 9.8%
82 Odessa 5,210 13.2%
83 Maplewood 8,051 15.0%
84 Troy 12,079 7.6%
85 Republic 16,247 12.0%
86 Smithville 9,884 6.4%
87 Nixa 21,544 9.2%
88 Manchester 18,110 8.4%
89 Belton 23,425 11.0%
90 Maryland Heights 27,080 7.9%
91 Peculiar 5,139 5.3%
92 Washington 14,014 7.8%
93 Battlefield 6,240 7.6%
94 Oak Grove 8,217 10.5%
95 Savannah 5,159 9.2%
96 Olivette 7,849 4.1%
97 Blue Springs 54,850 7.2%
98 Shrewsbury 6,150 8.0%
99 St. Peters 57,273 3.2%
100 Carl Junction 8,072 8.2%

How Is The Area In ?

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