These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Nebraska For 2018


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

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Nebraska brings to mind images of Lincoln, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, Nebraska 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 Nebraska that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 32 places in Nebraska with more than 5,000 people.

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

  1. Scottsbluff (Photos)
  2. Lexington (Photos)
  3. South Sioux City (Photos)
  4. Schuyler (Photos)
  5. Nebraska City (Photos)
  6. Crete (Photos)
  7. Mccook (Photos)
  8. Grand Island (Photos)
  9. Wayne (Photos)
  10. Hastings (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, Scottsbluff is the poorest place in Nebraska for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Nebraska 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 Nebraska 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 32 places with more than 5,000 people in Nebraska, we ranked each place from 1 to 32 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, Scottsbluff, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Nebraska For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 32 places.

1. Scottsbluff

Scottsbluff, Nebraska

Population: 14,937
Median Income: $37,665
Unemployment Rate: 7.9%
Poverty Rate: 19.9%
More on Scottsbluff: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 14,937 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Nebraska and the 2nd 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. Lexington

Lexington, Nebraska

Source: Public domain

Population: 10,090
Median Income: $44,834
Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
Poverty Rate: 20.4%
More on Lexington: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Nebraska is Lexington.

The city ranks as having the 1st highest incidence of poverty and 8th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 4th highest in the Cornhusker State.

User comment that mentions Lexington: I imagine that almost all of these cities have beef processing plants / anti Union! Low wage and bring in minorities. I grew up in Lexington and graduated in 68… Now it’s a third world city, since no locals would work at a packing plant( it’s tough work, dangerous, polluting and adds nothing to the culture…. This study is racist in that every one knows getto’ means black,,….rm’

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

3. South Sioux City

South Sioux City, Nebraska

Source: Public domain

Population: 13,268
Median Income: $48,438
Unemployment Rate: 8.5%
Poverty Rate: 19.3%
More on South Sioux City: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, South Sioux City’s median income ranks as the 17th 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 19.3% 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 Cornhusker State.

4. Schuyler

Schuyler, Nebraska

Source: Public domain

Population: 6,171
Median Income: $45,804
Unemployment Rate: 8.3%
Poverty Rate: 14.7%
More on Schuyler: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Schuyler ranks as the fourth poorest place in Nebraska.

The town ranks as having the 11th lowest median household income and the 14th 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. Nebraska City

Nebraska City, Nebraska

Population: 7,303
Median Income: $42,445
Unemployment Rate: 4.7%
Poverty Rate: 15.4%
More on Nebraska City: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Nebraska is Nebraska City.

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 13th highest in Nebraska.

Still not the best news for Nebraska City.

6. Crete

Crete, Nebraska

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,089
Median Income: $44,308
Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
Poverty Rate: 17.7%
More on Crete: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Crete ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Cornhusker State.

It ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and the 19th highest unemployment rate.

7. Mccook

Mccook, Nebraska

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,618
Median Income: $40,264
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Poverty Rate: 11.1%
More on McCook: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

McCook places as the seventh poorest city in Nebraska.

The city of over 7,618 ranks as having the 24th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Grand Island

Grand Island, Nebraska

Source: Public domain

Population: 50,895
Median Income: $49,118
Unemployment Rate: 5.7%
Poverty Rate: 16.4%
More on Grand Island: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Grand Island ranks as the eighth poorest city in Nebraska.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 8th highest in the state.

9. Wayne

Wayne, Nebraska

Source: Public domain

Population: 5,560
Median Income: $42,500
Unemployment Rate: 3.2%
Poverty Rate: 18.9%
More on Wayne: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

While the median income is the 6th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Wayne ranks as having the 4th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Nebraska.

10. Hastings

Hastings, Nebraska

Source: Public domain

Population: 24,983
Median Income: $46,903
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Poverty Rate: 12.5%
More on Hastings: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Nebraska is Hastings.

The city of 24,983 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Cornhusker State.

User comment that mentions Hastings: Where I live is the second largest community in Adams County. Hastings, NE is the largest at about 25,000 population. Number 2 comes in at 854 population. We have one blinking light at the K-12 school, railroad crossings, dividing the town, and US Mail pick-up at the post office on Main Street.||||Yes, I’m talking about Kenesaw, NE. Lived here for 23 years. It’s where I live and call home…

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

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

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

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 Nebraska, according to data:

Richest: Papillion
2nd Richest: Gretna
3rd Richest: La Vista

For more Nebraska reading , check out:

  • 10 Safest Places In Nebraska
  • 10 Best Places To Live In Nebraska
  • 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Nebraska
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Nebraska

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Scottsbluff 19.9%
    2 Lexington 20.4%
    3 South Sioux City 19.3%
    4 Schuyler 14.7%
    5 Nebraska City 15.4%
    6 Crete 17.7%
    7 Mccook 11.1%
    8 Grand Island 16.4%
    9 Wayne 18.9%
    10 Hastings 12.5%
    11 Chadron 17.2%
    12 Omaha 16.3%
    13 Norfolk 16.4%
    14 Beatrice 11.9%
    15 Lincoln 15.5%
    16 North Platte 14.7%
    17 Plattsmouth 11.6%
    18 Fremont 12.7%
    19 Alliance 15.7%
    20 Kearney 16.5%
    21 Bellevue 11.0%
    22 Blair 14.3%
    23 Columbus 9.8%
    24 Ralston 7.4%
    25 Gering 7.1%
    26 Holdrege 9.5%
    27 York 11.8%
    28 Seward 11.2%
    29 Sidney 11.4%
    30 La Vista 7.5%
    31 Gretna 6.7%
    32 Papillion 3.9%

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