These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Pennsylvania For 2018


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

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

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 190 places in Pennsylvania with more than 5,000 people.

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

  1. Duquesne (Photos)
  2. Johnstown (Photos)
  3. Chester (Photos)
  4. Reading (Photos)
  5. Mckeesport (Photos)
  6. Indiana (Photos)
  7. York (Photos)
  8. Stroudsburg (Photos)
  9. Clairton (Photos)
  10. Arnold (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, Duquesne is the poorest place in Pennsylvania for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 190 places with more than 5,000 people in Pennsylvania, we ranked each place from 1 to 190 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, Duquesne, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Pennsylvania For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 190 places.

1. Duquesne


Population: 5,534
Median Income: $21,495
Unemployment Rate: 24.8%
Poverty Rate: 40.2%
More on Duquesne: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 5,534 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Pennsylvania and the 4th 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. Johnstown

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Population: 20,169
Median Income: $24,075
Unemployment Rate: 15.7%
Poverty Rate: 37.0%
More on Johnstown: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Pennsylvania is Johnstown.

The city ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 5th highest in the Keystone State.

User comment that mentions Johnstown: I am from the Lewistown area and my wife is from Johnstown. I cannot identify with this garbage.

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

3. Chester

Chester, Pennsylvania

Source: Public domain

Population: 34,056
Median Income: $27,217
Unemployment Rate: 19.0%
Poverty Rate: 36.9%
More on Chester: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Chester’s median income ranks as the 6th 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 36.9% 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 Keystone State.

4. Reading

Reading, Pennsylvania

Source: Public domain

Population: 87,899
Median Income: $27,247
Unemployment Rate: 18.8%
Poverty Rate: 39.3%
More on Reading: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Reading ranks as the fourth poorest place in Pennsylvania.

The town ranks as having the 7th lowest median household income and the 5th 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.

User comment that mentions Reading: In reading your description of Shamokin I read this statement, If you live here, and you arent white, you are most likely trash.’ A little racist are we- In fact calling people trash and dividing up human beings by race is disturbing. This article is pointless and just exploits communities of people who are doing the best they can with the cards they’re dealt.’

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

5. Mckeesport

Mckeesport, Pennsylvania

Population: 19,529
Median Income: $26,271
Unemployment Rate: 15.2%
Poverty Rate: 33.3%
More on McKeesport: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Pennsylvania is McKeesport.

The city ranks as having the 4th 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 12th highest in Pennsylvania.

Still not the best news for McKeesport.

6. Indiana

Indiana, Pennsylvania

Population: 14,002
Median Income: $28,103
Unemployment Rate: 12.3%
Poverty Rate: 42.6%
More on Indiana: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Indiana ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Keystone State.

It ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and the 21st highest unemployment rate.

7. York

York, Pennsylvania

Source: Public domain

Population: 43,848
Median Income: $30,068
Unemployment Rate: 13.4%
Poverty Rate: 36.0%
More on York: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

York places as the seventh poorest city in Pennsylvania.

The city of over 43,848 ranks as having the 10th 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. Stroudsburg

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Population: 5,486
Median Income: $31,453
Unemployment Rate: 14.8%
Poverty Rate: 34.2%
More on Stroudsburg: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Stroudsburg ranks as the eighth poorest city in Pennsylvania.

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

9. Clairton

Clairton, Pennsylvania

Source: Public domain

Population: 6,719
Median Income: $30,513
Unemployment Rate: 14.5%
Poverty Rate: 30.3%
More on Clairton: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

While the median income is the 18th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Clairton ranks as having the 19th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Pennsylvania.

10. Arnold

Arnold, Pennsylvania

Population: 5,019
Median Income: $25,599
Unemployment Rate: 10.0%
Poverty Rate: 36.3%
More on Arnold: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Pennsylvania is Arnold.

The city of 5,019 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Keystone State.

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

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

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 Pennsylvania, according to data:

Richest: Clarks Summit
2nd Richest: Economy
3rd Richest: Franklin Park

For more Pennsylvania reading , check out:

  • 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Pennsylvania
  • 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Pennsylvania
  • 10 Safest Places In Pennsylvania
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Pennsylvania

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Duquesne 40.2%
    2 Johnstown 37.0%
    3 Chester 36.9%
    4 Reading 39.3%
    5 Mckeesport 33.3%
    6 Indiana 42.6%
    7 York 36.0%
    8 Stroudsburg 34.2%
    9 Clairton 30.3%
    10 Arnold 36.3%
    11 Uniontown 30.5%
    12 Harrisburg 31.7%
    13 Clarion 36.1%
    14 Lock Haven 41.8%
    15 Titusville 29.1%
    16 Wilkes-Barre 30.1%
    17 Shamokin 27.3%
    18 Aliquippa 29.5%
    19 Coatesville 31.5%
    20 Darby 31.6%
    21 Butler 27.4%
    22 Bradford 33.3%
    23 New Castle 27.4%
    24 Hazleton 24.7%
    25 Lancaster 29.2%
    26 Williamsport 27.5%
    27 Wilkinsburg 24.1%
    28 Lebanon 25.7%
    29 Oil City 25.7%
    30 Allentown 26.7%
    31 Shippensburg 26.0%
    32 Mckees Rocks 25.6%
    33 Beaver Falls 27.5%
    34 Lewi 24.8%
    35 California 24.2%
    36 East Stroudsburg 26.4%
    37 State College 44.8%
    38 Philadelphia 25.9%
    39 Erie 26.4%
    40 Sharon 25.1%
    41 Meadville 24.4%
    42 Nanticoke 21.7%
    43 Ambridge 19.6%
    44 Tamaqua 20.5%
    45 Carbondale 23.1%
    46 Milton 18.3%
    47 Pittston 20.8%
    48 Connellsville 22.8%
    49 Washington 22.2%
    50 Franklin 19.0%
    51 Bloomsburg 31.4%
    52 Somerset 21.9%
    53 Waynesboro 17.8%
    54 Mount Carmel 18.0%
    55 Sunbury 20.4%
    56 Columbia 20.4%
    57 Plymouth 23.3%
    58 Scranton 23.1%
    59 Norri 22.3%
    60 Berwick 21.4%
    61 Monessen 17.9%
    62 Altoona 22.3%
    63 Swissvale 17.5%
    64 Gettysburg 25.1%
    65 Greensburg 24.4%
    66 Chambersburg 23.0%
    67 Pottsville 16.4%
    68 Bangor 11.5%
    69 Collingdale 17.9%
    70 Edinboro 26.3%
    71 New Kensington 21.0%
    72 Sugarcreek 11.4%
    73 Coraopolis 16.8%
    74 Pittsburgh 22.3%
    75 New Brighton 19.4%
    76 Pott 21.7%
    77 Greenville 21.6%
    78 Millersville 21.2%
    79 Turtle Creek 24.0%
    80 Easton 18.9%
    81 Punxsutawney 20.3%
    82 Steelton 25.9%
    83 Tyrone 19.7%
    84 Huntingdon 20.9%
    85 Taylor 13.3%
    86 West Chester 28.4%
    87 Clearfield 14.3%
    88 Vandergrift 21.9%
    89 Dubois 19.7%
    90 Carlisle 19.3%
    91 Oxford 22.6%
    92 Carnegie 21.5%
    93 Ellwood City 10.7%
    94 Lehighton 13.7%
    95 Yeadon 14.3%
    96 Dickson City 13.7%
    97 Kut 21.7%
    98 Blakely 16.8%
    99 Lewisburg 27.9%
    100 Old Forge 14.8%

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