Poorest Cities In North Dakota For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in North Dakota 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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in North Dakota.

North Dakota brings to mind images of Bismarck, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 26 places in North Dakota with more than 2,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in North Dakota for 2021:

  1. Wahpeton
  2. Grand Forks
  3. New Town
  4. Bottineau
  5. Jamestown
  6. Rugby
  7. Fargo
  8. Valley City
  9. Grafton
  10. Devils Lake

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 North Dakota? According to the facts, Wahpeton is the poorest place in North Dakota for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best places in North Dakota 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 North Dakota reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In North Dakota For 2021

1. Wahpeton

Wahpeton, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 7,802
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Income: $45,150 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.0% (5th highest)
More on Wahpeton:  Data | Photos

Wahpeton, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in North Dakota thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 7,802 people averages the lowest median household income in North Dakota and the 5th 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. Grand Forks

Grand Forks, ND

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 56,500
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $50,076 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.5% (2nd highest)
More on Grand Forks:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in North Dakota is Grand Forks.

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 4th highest in the Peace Garden State.

3. New Town

New Town, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,525
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Income: $59,583 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.8% (4th highest)
More on New Town:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, New Town's median income ranks as the 11th 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 16.752475247524753% 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 Peace Garden State.

4. Bottineau

Bottineau, ND

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,094
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Income: $55,185 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 13.5% (7th highest)
More on Bottineau:  Data | Photos

Bottineau ranks as the fourth poorest place in North Dakota.

The town ranks as having the 9th lowest median household income and the 7th 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. Jamestown

Jamestown, ND

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 15,289
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $51,789 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 14.7% (6th highest)
More on Jamestown:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in North Dakota is Jamestown.

The city ranks as having the 6th 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 6th highest in North Dakota.

Still not the best news for Jamestown.

6. Rugby

Rugby, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 2,724
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Income: $46,552 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.5% (2highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.9% (highest)
More on Rugby:  Data | Photos

Rugby ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Peace Garden State.

It ranks as having the highest incidence of poverty and the 2highest unemployment rate.

7. Fargo

Fargo, ND

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 121,889
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $55,551 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 13.2% (8th highest)
More on Fargo:  Data | Photos

Fargo places as the seventh poorest city in North Dakota.

The city of over 121,889 ranks as having the 8th 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. Valley City

Valley City, ND

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 6,460
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $46,926 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 2.0% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 12.5% (9th highest)
More on Valley City:  Data | Photos

Valley City ranks as the eighth poorest city in North Dakota.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 14th highest in the state.

9. Grafton

Grafton, ND

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 4,182
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 5)
Median Income: $52,760 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 9.0% (15th highest)
More on Grafton:  Data | Photos

Grafton couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in North Dakota; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 7th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Grafton ranks as having the 15th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in North Dakota.

10. Devils Lake

Devils Lake, ND

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,344
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Income: $47,218 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 0.4% (24th highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.0% (3rd highest)
More on Devils Lake:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in North Dakota is Devils Lake.

The city of 7,344 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Peace Garden State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In North Dakota for 2021

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 2015-2019 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 26 places with more than 2,000 people in North Dakota, we ranked each place from 1 to 26 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, Wahpeton, crowned the "Poorest Place In North Dakota For 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In North Dakota For 2021

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

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 North Dakota, according to data:

    Richest: Horace
    2nd Richest: Lincoln
    3rd Richest: Beulah

For more North Dakota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In North Dakota

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Wahpeton 7,802 16.0%
2 Grand Forks 56,500 18.5%
3 New Town 2,525 16.8%
4 Bottineau 2,094 13.5%
5 Jamestown 15,289 14.7%
6 Rugby 2,724 19.9%
7 Fargo 121,889 13.2%
8 Valley City 6,460 12.5%
9 Grafton 4,182 9.0%
10 Devils Lake 7,344 17.0%
11 Minot 48,261 10.9%
12 Dickinson 22,882 9.8%
13 Bismarck 72,777 9.2%
14 Watford City 6,912 10.1%
15 Mandan 22,301 8.2%
16 Hazen 2,543 10.3%
17 Carrington 2,133 8.5%
18 Williston 27,250 6.4%
19 Oakes 2,129 6.1%
20 Casselton 2,677 6.0%
21 Lisbon 2,009 5.1%
22 Stanley 2,655 5.7%
23 West Fargo 35,397 6.4%
24 Beulah 3,235 2.9%
25 Lincoln 3,703 0.5%
26 Horace 2,741 1.7%

How Is The Area In ?

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