Like all states, Missouri has certain places that are going on hard times. These Missouri places have an above-average percentage of people living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.
Even as the economy continues to improve, it’s worthwhile to look at the places in each state struggling to make ends meet. So we set our sites on locating the poorest places in Missouri.
To do so, we used Saturday Night Science to analyze the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 129 cities in Missouri with more than 5,000 people.
What’s the poorest city in Missouri? According to the facts, Bonne Terre is the poorest place in Missouri for 2023.
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.
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Missouri
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- The poorest states in the US
- The poorest cities in the US
The 10 Poorest Cities In Missouri For 2023
Bonne Terre, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Missouri thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 6,772 people averages the 3rd lowest median household income in Missouri and the 3rd 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.
The second poorest city in Missouri is Jennings.
The city ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty and lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 11th highest in the Show Me State.
Placing as the third poorest city, West Plains’s median income ranks as the 10th 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 34.04564492691683% 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.
Charleston ranks as the fourth poorest place in Missouri.
The town ranks as having the 2nd lowest median household income and the 11th 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.
The fifth poorest city in Missouri is Poplar Bluff.
The city ranks as having the 6th 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 9th highest in Missouri.
Still not the best news for Poplar Bluff.
Kirksville ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Show Me State.
It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 33rd highest unemployment rate.
Caruthersville places as the seventh poorest city in Missouri.
The city of over 5,606 ranks as having the 12th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Maryville ranks as the eighth poorest city in Missouri.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 103rd highest in the state.
Berkeley couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Missouri; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 5th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Berkeley ranks as having the 13th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Missouri.
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Missouri is Carthage.
The city of 15,395 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Show Me State.
Methodology: How We Determined The Poorest Places In Missouri for 2023
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 used Saturday Night Science to look at this set of criteria from the newly released 2017-2021 American Community Survey:
- Poverty Level
- Median Household Income
After we collected the data for all 129 places with more than 5,000 people in Missouri, we ranked each place from 1 to 129 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, Bonne Terre, crowned the “Poorest Place In Missouri For 2023”.
This report has been updated for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the poorest places in Missouri.
Summary: The Poorest Cities In Missouri For 2023
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:
2nd Richest: Parkville
3rd Richest: Des Peres
For more Missouri reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In Missouri
- Safest Places In Missouri
- Worst Places To Live In Missouri
- Most Expensive Places To Live In Missouri
Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Missouri
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