Poorest Cities In Montana For 2020


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 2020. This is our sixth 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 34 places in Montana with more than 2,000 people.

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 Montana? According to the facts, Wolf Point is the poorest place in Montana for 2020.

Rich people more 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:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Montana For 2020

Wolf Point, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,799
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 8)
Median Income: $44,276 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.2% (1st highest)
More on Wolf Point:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 2,799 people averages the 14th 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.

Libby, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,663
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $30,217 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.6% (13th highest)
More on Libby:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Montana is Libby.

The city ranks as having the 13th highest incidence of poverty and 1st lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 2nd highest in the Treasure State.

Stevensville, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,163
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 5)
Median Income: $32,500 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.7% (16th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.7% (2nd highest)
More on Stevensville:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Stevensville'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 23.665564478034955% 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.

Cut Bank, MT

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 3,007
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $36,485 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.4% (4th highest)
More on Cut Bank:  Data | Photos

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.

Polson, MT

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 4,843
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 4)
Median Income: $36,272 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.6% (14th highest)
More on Polson:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Montana is Polson.

The city ranks as having the 5th 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 14th highest in Montana.

Still not the best news for Polson.

Hardin, MT

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,842
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $43,377 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.8% (10th highest)
More on Hardin:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty and the 3rd highest unemployment rate.

Dillon, MT

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,244
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 5)
Median Income: $34,432 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (24th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.5% (3rd highest)
More on Dillon:  Data | Photos

Dillon places as the seventh poorest city in Montana.

The city of over 4,244 ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Missoula, MT

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 72,125
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $45,010 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.3% (9th highest)
More on Missoula:  Data | Photos

Missoula ranks as the eighth poorest city in Montana.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 11th highest in the state.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, MT

Overall SnackAbility

/10

Population: 9,100
Rank Last Year: -
Median Income: $41,783 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (21st highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.2% (5th highest)
More on Anaconda-Deer Lodge County:  Data | Photos

Anaconda-Deer Lodge County couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in Montana; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 9th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County ranks as having the 5th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Montana.

Havre, MT

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 9,762
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $46,419 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.7% (12th highest)
More on Havre:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 9,762 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Treasure State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Montana for 2020

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 2014-2018 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, Wolf Point, crowned the "Poorest Place In Montana For 2020". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Montana For 2020

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: Belgrade
    3rd Richest: Glendive

For more Montana reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Montana

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Wolf Point 2,799 25.2%
2 Libby 2,663 17.6%
3 Stevensville 2,163 23.7%
4 Cut Bank 3,007 23.4%
5 Polson 4,843 16.6%
6 Hardin 3,842 17.8%
7 Dillon 4,244 23.5%
8 Missoula 72,125 18.3%
9 Anaconda-Deer Lodge County 9,100 19.2%
10 Havre 9,762 17.7%
11 Hamilton 4,628 19.2%
12 Malta 2,090 13.4%
13 Kalispell 22,621 14.8%
14 Deer Lodge 2,976 19.1%
15 Great Falls 58,990 14.5%
16 Bozeman 45,121 18.6%
17 Conrad 2,531 17.8%
18 Lewistown 5,895 14.1%
19 Shelby 3,160 16.1%
20 Livingston 7,478 14.1%
21 Helena 31,212 15.7%
22 Columbus 2,324 9.0%
23 Whitefish 7,309 9.9%
24 Townsend 2,069 11.4%
25 Columbia Falls 5,225 12.7%
26 Laurel 6,849 7.3%
27 Glasgow 3,348 5.7%
28 Red Lodge 2,277 14.3%
29 Colstrip 2,446 5.9%
30 Billings 109,431 10.2%
31 Miles City 8,576 11.8%
32 Glendive 5,232 10.4%
33 Belgrade 8,345 6.5%
34 Sidney 6,475 4.7%

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