These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Montana


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

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Montana brings to mind images of the beautiful landscapes and some of the best people in the country.

However, like all states, Montana 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 sights on bringing attention to the places in Montana that could use a helping hand.

After analyzing Census data from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey for the 53 places in Montana with more than 2,000 people, we were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Treasure State:

  1. North Browning
  2. Pablo
  3. Lame Deer
  4. South Browning
  5. Libby
  6. Hamilton
  7. Dillon
  8. Polson
  9. Hardin
  10. Butte-Silver Bow

To be clear, 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 status of the economy.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, read on or skip to the end for the full list. Oh, and the richest place in Montana? That would be Montana City.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Montana

The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of 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 2010-2014 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income (Lower is poorer)
  • Unemployment Rate (Higher is poorer)

Median household income is more a digestible way to understand how poor a place really is. While 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 2,000 people in Montana, we ranked each place from 1 to 53 for each of the criteria with 1 being the most poor.

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a “poor score” with the place having the lowest overall poor score, North Browning, being named the “Poorest Place In Montana”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 53 places.

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1. North Browning

North Browning, Montana

Source: panoramo

Population: 2,363
Poverty Level: 45.5%
Unemployment Rate: 32.2%

2. Pablo

Pablo, Montana

Source: wikipedia

Population: 2,616
Poverty Level: 47.0%
Unemployment Rate: 28.8%

3. Lame Deer

Lame Deer, Montana

Source: wikipedia

Population: 2,131
Poverty Level: 40.1%
Unemployment Rate: 34.1%

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4. South Browning

South Browning, Montana

Source: Trulia

Population: 2,045
Poverty Level: 46.5%
Unemployment Rate: 27.8%

5. Libby

Libby, Montana

Source: Google Maps

Population: 2,667
Poverty Level: 21.3%
Unemployment Rate: 10.6%

6. Hamilton

Hamilton, Montana

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 4,486
Poverty Level: 25.0%
Unemployment Rate: 8.6%

7. Dillon

Dillon, Montana

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 4,181
Poverty Level: 26.8%
Unemployment Rate: 9.5%

8. Polson

Polson, Montana

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 4,580
Poverty Level: 23.2%
Unemployment Rate: 8.5%

9. Hardin

Hardin, Montana

Source: Flickr user rickpilot_2000

Population: 3,720
Poverty Level: 16.8%
Unemployment Rate: 9.9%

10. Butte-Silver Bow

Butte-Silver Bow, Montana

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 33,481
Poverty Level: 21.5%
Unemployment Rate: 7.0%

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Montana

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Montana we weren’t trying to comment on the quality of the people in the area, only the statistics. But when you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being on he bottom of the income ladder.

If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in MT, according to data:

Richest: Montana City
2nd Richest: Helena Valley Northwest
3rd Richest: Four Corners
For more Montana reading , check out:

Detailed List Of Poorest Places In Montana

City Rank Population Poverty Level Unemployment Rate
North Browning 1 2,363 45.5% 32.2%
Pablo 2 2,616 47.0% 28.8%
Lame Deer 3 2,131 40.1% 34.1%
South Browning 4 2,045 46.5% 27.8%
Libby 5 2,667 21.3% 10.6%
Hamilton 6 4,486 25.0% 8.6%
Dillon 7 4,181 26.8% 9.5%
Polson 8 4,580 23.2% 8.5%
Hardin 9 3,720 16.8% 9.9%
Butte-Silver Bow 10 33,481 21.5% 7.0%
Missoula 11 68,377 22.6% 9.2%
Lakeside 12 2,755 27.0% 17.1%
East Missoula 13 2,597 25.8% 10.5%
Anaconda-Deer Lodge County 14 9,243 18.8% 7.4%
Bozeman 15 39,123 24.9% 8.1%
Kalispell 16 20,629 15.7% 8.7%
Conrad 17 2,600 14.3% 4.9%
Evergreen 18 6,711 9.8% 6.5%
Livingston 19 7,086 11.2% 6.4%
Cut Bank 20 2,947 15.0% 3.8%
Great Falls 21 59,017 15.2% 5.6%
Wolf Point 22 2,730 18.7% 0.9%
Glendive 23 5,167 16.1% 3.2%
Townsend 24 2,033 13.6% 4.2%
Deer Lodge 25 3,085 15.6% 2.7%
Havre 26 9,668 18.1% 3.3%
Shelby 27 3,096 16.0% 3.3%
Whitefish 28 6,542 12.0% 7.8%
Miles City 29 8,553 13.3% 4.4%
Helena 30 29,142 15.8% 5.1%
Orchard Homes 31 5,410 12.4% 7.2%
East Helena 32 2,497 10.4% 5.4%
Helena Valley Southeast 33 7,340 9.8% 9.1%
Billings 34 106,979 13.2% 4.4%
Big Sky 35 2,694 11.5% 8.8%
Columbia Falls 36 4,765 8.9% 5.5%
Lewistown 37 5,879 7.2% 2.7%
Bigfork 38 4,375 7.5% 9.2%
Belgrade 39 7,625 10.1% 3.2%
Lolo 40 3,994 11.2% 6.3%
Red Lodge 41 2,337 14.6% 0.6%
Columbus 42 2,250 4.6% 9.0%
Laurel 43 6,887 8.6% 3.0%
Glasgow 44 3,327 12.3% 1.9%
Malmstrom AFB 45 3,625 2.2% 8.1%
Lockwood 46 6,943 9.0% 3.8%
Helena Valley Northeast 47 2,731 12.7% 2.7%
Helena Valley West Central 48 8,502 8.5% 5.7%
Sidney 49 5,888 9.6% 3.3%
Colstrip 50 2,243 5.3% 5.5%
Four Corners 51 3,264 5.1% 3.8%
Helena Valley Northwest 52 3,939 3.2% 3.3%
Montana City 53 2,683 0.5% 2.4%
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