These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Montana For 2019


We used science and data to determine which places in Montana 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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the poorest places in Montana.

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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 33 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 2019:

  1. Polson (Photos)
  2. Dillon (Photos)
  3. Hamilton (Photos)
  4. Libby (Photos)
  5. Cut Bank (Photos)
  6. Missoula (Photos)
  7. Hardin (Photos)
  8. Stevensville (Photos)
  9. Wolf Point (Photos)
  10. Havre (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, Polson is the poorest place in Montana for 2019.

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.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more Montana reading, check out:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Montana for 2019

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 2013-2017 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 33 places with more than 2,000 people in Montana, we ranked each place from 1 to 33 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, Polson, crowned the “Poorest Place In Montana For 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 33 places.

Polson, MT

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,702
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Income: $33,023 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.3% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.7% (11th highest)
More on Polson:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 4,702 people averages the 3rd lowest median household income in Montana and the 11th 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.

Dillon, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,224
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $36,201 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.9% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.4% (2nd highest)
More on Dillon:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Montana is Dillon.

The city ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and 5th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 11th highest in the Treasure State.

Hamilton, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,570
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Income: $29,799 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (16th highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.7% (3rd highest)
More on Hamilton:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Hamilton’s median income ranks as the 2nd 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 21.7% 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.

Libby, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,664
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Income: $26,049 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.8% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 14.9% (19th highest)
More on Libby:  Data | Photos

Libby ranks as the fourth poorest place in Montana.

The town ranks as having the 1st lowest median household income and the 19th 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.

Cut Bank, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 3,009
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $38,229 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.9% (1st highest)
More on Cut Bank:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Montana is Cut Bank.

The city ranks as having the 7th 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 1st highest in Montana.

Still not the best news for Cut Bank.

Missoula, MT

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 70,847
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Income: $43,602 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.8% (6th highest)
More on Missoula:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty and the 5th highest unemployment rate.

Hardin, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,812
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $43,641 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.7% (7th highest)
More on Hardin:  Data | Photos

Hardin places as the seventh poorest city in Montana.

The city of over 3,812 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.

Stevensville, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,020
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $34,282 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.5% (12th highest)
More on Stevensville:  Data | Photos

Stevensville ranks as the eighth poorest city in Montana.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 9th highest in the state.

Wolf Point, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,792
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $43,512 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.1% (8th highest)
More on Wolf Point:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 12th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Wolf Point ranks as having the 8th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Montana.

Havre, MT

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 9,763
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Income: $44,337 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.1% (8th highest)
More on Havre:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Montana is Havre.

The city of 9,763 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 2019

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: Glasgow
    3rd Richest: Three Forks

For more Montana reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Montana

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Polson 4,702 16.7%
2 Dillon 4,224 23.4%
3 Hamilton 4,570 21.7%
4 Libby 2,664 14.9%
5 Cut Bank 3,009 23.9%
6 Missoula 70,847 19.8%
7 Hardin 3,812 19.7%
8 Stevensville 2,020 16.5%
9 Wolf Point 2,792 19.1%
10 Havre 9,763 19.1%
11 Bozeman 43,132 20.5%
12 Deer Lodge 3,015 21.2%
13 Kalispell 21,992 17.1%
14 Livingston 7,294 15.3%
15 Great Falls 59,144 14.5%
16 Lewistown 5,942 15.2%
17 Conrad 2,841 16.0%
18 Shelby 3,194 15.2%
19 Columbia Falls 5,054 12.5%
20 East Helena 2,265 7.7%
21 Columbus 2,320 8.1%
22 Red Lodge 2,349 16.3%
23 Helena 30,345 15.6%
24 Whitefish 7,070 10.4%
25 Laurel 6,885 9.0%
26 Colstrip 2,253 6.2%
27 Miles City 8,610 12.2%
28 Belgrade 8,026 10.0%
29 Billings 109,082 10.8%
30 Glendive 5,285 14.8%
31 Three Forks 2,046 6.5%
32 Glasgow 3,361 5.8%
33 Sidney 6,491 5.2%

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