These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Montana For 2018


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 Helena, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

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 sites on bringing attention to the places in Montana that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 34 places in Montana with more than 2,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Treasure State for 2018:

  1. Dillon (Photos)
  2. Libby (Photos)
  3. Polson (Photos)
  4. Cut Bank (Photos)
  5. Hardin (Photos)
  6. Hamilton (Photos)
  7. Stevensville (Photos)
  8. Wolf Point (Photos)
  9. Missoula (Photos)
  10. Anaconda-Deer Lodge County (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, Dillon is the poorest place in Montana for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Montana or the most dangerous.

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 Montana 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 34 places with more than 2,000 people in Montana, we ranked each place from 1 to 34 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, Dillon, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Montana For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 34 places.

1. Dillon

Dillon, Montana

Source: Public domain

Population: 4,214
Median Income: $32,180
Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
Poverty Rate: 22.9%
More on Dillon: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 4,214 people averages the 4th lowest median household income in Montana 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.

2. Libby

Libby, Montana

Source: Public domain

Population: 2,674
Median Income: $24,271
Unemployment Rate: 11.8%
Poverty Rate: 20.3%
More on Libby: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Montana is Libby.

The city ranks as having the 9th highest incidence of poverty and 1st lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 2nd highest in the Treasure State.

User comment that mentions Libby: I lived in Libby from 1993-1999. Could not be more true. Huge meth problem. The people are proud; of nothing. They cannot imagine what the real world actually is. I found my peace and joy in Texas and never looked back.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

3. Polson

Polson, Montana

Population: 4,674
Median Income: $33,013
Unemployment Rate: 11.8%
Poverty Rate: 20.4%
More on Polson: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Polson’s median income ranks as the 5th 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 20.4% 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 Treasure State.

User comment that mentions Polson: The data used by this author is faulty. Don’t know why you would fail to interview the residents of these communities; that may have given some informed insight into WHY the people chose to live there. Montanans will, for the most part, be pleased that you have written such a slanderous article; they don’t want the state to get too crowded. As a former resident and native of Polson, Montana, your BEST PLACES list missed Missoula, Polson, Big Fork and several other gems in the Treasure State. Faulty data leads to false conclusions. Pathetic and negative article.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

4. Cut Bank

Cut Bank, Montana

Population: 2,993
Median Income: $36,542
Unemployment Rate: 6.7%
Poverty Rate: 20.9%
More on Cut Bank: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Cut Bank ranks as the fourth poorest place in Montana.

The town ranks as having the 6th lowest median household income and the 4th 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. Hardin

Hardin, Montana

Population: 3,803
Median Income: $40,884
Unemployment Rate: 11.8%
Poverty Rate: 20.8%
More on Hardin: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Montana is Hardin.

The city ranks as having the 13th 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 5th highest in Montana.

Still not the best news for Hardin.

6. Hamilton

Hamilton, Montana

Population: 4,539
Median Income: $31,845
Unemployment Rate: 6.5%
Poverty Rate: 20.1%
More on Hamilton: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Hamilton ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Treasure State.

It ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty and the 10th highest unemployment rate.

7. Stevensville

Stevensville, Montana

Population: 2,016
Median Income: $32,120
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Poverty Rate: 19.1%
More on Stevensville: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Stevensville places as the seventh poorest city in Montana.

The city of over 2,016 ranks as having the 14th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

User comment that mentions Stevensville: I am from stevensville Montana and am very proud of that. I think they must have their facts backwards about all these towns I think they are some if the best towns in Montana and are wonderful.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

8. Wolf Point

Wolf Point, Montana

Source: Public domain

Population: 2,801
Median Income: $38,397
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
Poverty Rate: 21.5%
More on Wolf Point: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Wolf Point ranks as the eighth poorest city in Montana.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 19th highest in the state.

9. Missoula

Missoula, Montana

Population: 70,117
Median Income: $42,389
Unemployment Rate: 7.4%
Poverty Rate: 19.3%
More on Missoula: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Missoula couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Montana; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 16th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Missoula ranks as having the 12th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Montana.

User comment that mentions Missoula: Unless you live in Missoula. I love Missoula and the rest of Montana though!

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

10. Anaconda-Deer Lodge County

Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, Montana

Population: 9,176
Median Income: $39,212
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Poverty Rate: 20.8%
More on Anaconda-Deer Lodge County: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Montana is Anaconda-Deer Lodge County.

The city of 9,176 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Treasure State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Montana For 2018

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

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 Montana, according to data:

Richest: Sidney
2nd Richest: Three Forks
3rd Richest: Glasgow

For more Montana reading , check out:

  • 10 Worst Places To Live In Montana
  • 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Montana
  • 10 Best Places To Live In Montana
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Montana

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Dillon 22.9%
    2 Libby 20.3%
    3 Polson 20.4%
    4 Cut Bank 20.9%
    5 Hardin 20.8%
    6 Hamilton 20.1%
    7 Stevensville 19.1%
    8 Wolf Point 21.5%
    9 Missoula 19.3%
    10 Anaconda-Deer Lodge County 20.8%
    11 Kalispell 18.5%
    12 Bozeman 20.7%
    13 Havre 20.0%
    14 Glendive 21.5%
    15 Great Falls 16.1%
    16 Conrad 19.0%
    17 Columbus 11.4%
    18 Lewistown 13.8%
    19 Columbia Falls 12.3%
    20 Red Lodge 19.3%
    21 Livingston 13.2%
    22 Deer Lodge 11.4%
    23 Helena 16.5%
    24 Whitefish 8.8%
    25 Shelby 13.9%
    26 Miles City 13.5%
    27 Belgrade 9.4%
    28 Laurel 7.7%
    29 Billings 11.6%
    30 Colstrip 4.7%
    31 East Helena 7.4%
    32 Glasgow 10.3%
    33 Three Forks 7.4%
    34 Sidney 7.6%

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