Poorest Cities In Pennsylvania For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania.

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 187 places in Pennsylvania with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Pennsylvania for 2021:

  1. Johnstown
  2. Duquesne
  3. Reading
  4. McKeesport
  5. Shamokin
  6. Clarion
  7. Indiana
  8. Chester
  9. McKees Rocks
  10. Aliquippa

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 Pennsylvania? According to the facts, Johnstown is the poorest place in Pennsylvania for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best 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.

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

For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Pennsylvania For 2021

1. Johnstown

Johnstown, PA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 19,569
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $24,561 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.9% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 38.4% (4th highest)
More on Johnstown:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 19,569 people averages the 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. Duquesne

Duquesne, PA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 5,543
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,844 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.8% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 39.2% (3rd highest)
More on Duquesne:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Pennsylvania is Duquesne.

The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 6th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 3rd highest in the Keystone State.

3. Reading

Reading, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 88,232
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $32,176 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.9% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.7% (7th highest)
More on Reading:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Reading's median income ranks as the 10th 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 32.72394241314138% 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. Mckeesport

Mckeesport, PA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 19,225
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Income: $29,094 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.1% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.4% (11th highest)
More on Mckeesport:  Data | Photos

McKeesport ranks as the fourth poorest place in Pennsylvania.

The town ranks as having the 5th lowest median household income and the 11th 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. Shamokin

Shamokin, PA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,051
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 5)
Median Income: $28,737 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.2% (6th highest)
More on Shamokin:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Pennsylvania is Shamokin.

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 6th highest in Pennsylvania.

Still not the best news for Shamokin.

6. Clarion

Clarion, PA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,580
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 5)
Median Income: $27,823 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.1% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.6% (14th highest)
More on Clarion:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 14th highest incidence of poverty and the 8th highest unemployment rate.

7. Indiana

Indiana, PA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 13,346
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 3)
Median Income: $30,647 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (17th highest)
Poverty Rate: 39.3% (2nd highest)
More on Indiana:  Data | Photos

Indiana places as the seventh poorest city in Pennsylvania.

The city of over 13,346 ranks as having the 2nd 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. Chester

Chester, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 33,982
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $32,403 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.1% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.4% (10th highest)
More on Chester:  Data | Photos

Chester ranks as the eighth poorest city in Pennsylvania.

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

9. Mckees Rocks

Mckees Rocks, PA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,919
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 6)
Median Income: $26,259 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (20th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.3% (12th highest)
More on Mckees Rocks:  Data | Photos

McKees Rocks couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in Pennsylvania; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 2nd lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, McKees Rocks ranks as having the 12th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Pennsylvania.

10. Aliquippa

Aliquippa, PA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 9,004
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $31,985 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.1% (22nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.0% (5th highest)
More on Aliquippa:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 9,004 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Keystone State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Pennsylvania 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 187 places with more than 5,000 people in Pennsylvania, we ranked each place from 1 to 187 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, Johnstown, crowned the "Poorest Place In Pennsylvania For 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Pennsylvania For 2021

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: Jefferson Hills
    2nd Richest: Fox Chapel
    3rd Richest: Economy

For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Pennsylvania

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Johnstown 19,569 38.4%
2 Duquesne 5,543 39.2%
3 Reading 88,232 32.7%
4 Mckeesport 19,225 31.4%
5 Shamokin 7,051 33.2%
6 Clarion 5,580 30.6%
7 Indiana 13,346 39.3%
8 Chester 33,982 31.4%
9 Mckees Rocks 5,919 31.3%
10 Aliquippa 9,004 34.0%
11 York 44,022 31.9%
12 Sharon 13,227 27.3%
13 Uniontown 9,837 26.0%
14 New Castle 21,991 25.7%
15 Beaver Falls 8,464 28.9%
16 Turtle Creek 5,197 30.4%
17 Butler 13,092 27.8%
18 Bradford 8,355 30.8%
19 Clairton 6,619 22.5%
20 Wilkes-Barre 40,867 26.6%
21 California 6,347 22.2%
22 Allentown 120,915 25.7%
23 Bloomsburg 14,085 28.3%
24 Harrisburg 49,209 26.2%
25 State College 42,275 44.9%
26 Somerset 5,942 24.1%
27 Lehighton 5,304 23.4%
28 Pittston 7,765 25.2%
29 Erie 97,263 26.2%
30 Lock Haven 9,247 32.7%
31 Lebanon 25,793 24.7%
32 Wilkinsburg 15,485 24.5%
33 Connellsville 7,411 18.0%
34 Meadville 12,864 19.4%
35 Coatesville 13,136 25.5%
36 Mount Carmel 5,667 16.5%
37 Philadelphia 1,579,075 24.3%
38 Hazleton 24,857 22.1%
39 New Brighton 5,780 19.7%
40 Oil City 9,846 18.0%
41 Steelton 5,953 26.3%
42 Jeannette 9,216 22.2%
43 Darby 10,695 25.5%
44 Tamaqua 6,731 15.3%
45 Williamsport 28,562 25.4%
46 Sunbury 9,480 18.9%
47 Lewi 8,194 21.5%
48 Punxsutawney 5,770 25.7%
49 Pottsville 13,648 16.5%
50 Berwick 10,073 22.7%
51 Taylor 5,965 21.5%
52 Carbondale 8,471 23.2%
53 Bangor 5,208 12.1%
54 Washington 13,532 19.9%
55 Lancaster 59,433 23.9%
56 Columbia 10,382 20.4%
57 East Stroudsburg 10,333 17.4%
58 Tyrone 5,217 16.3%
59 Nanticoke 10,304 18.7%
60 Scranton 77,054 23.2%
61 Titusville 5,264 24.2%
62 Huntingdon 6,977 21.3%
63 Altoona 43,987 23.4%
64 Franklin 6,148 19.6%
65 Norri 34,443 19.5%
66 Gettysburg 7,689 21.3%
67 Clearfield 5,921 19.8%
68 Clifton Heights 6,696 18.1%
69 Edinboro 5,794 24.1%
70 Greenville 5,459 17.8%
71 New Kensington 12,468 23.0%
72 Waynesboro 10,860 17.0%
73 Pott 22,670 18.8%
74 Pittsburgh 302,205 20.5%
75 Coraopolis 5,488 11.8%
76 Kut 5,040 16.3%
77 Schuylkill Haven 5,178 8.4%
78 Monessen 7,344 15.6%
79 Collingdale 8,791 18.1%
80 Greensburg 14,290 18.8%
81 Ellwood City 7,679 11.1%
82 Sugarcreek 5,014 11.2%
83 Millersville 8,322 22.3%
84 Corry 6,332 24.7%
85 Oxford 5,515 16.2%
86 Carlisle 19,153 15.8%
87 Sharon Hill 5,684 12.1%
88 Munhall 11,121 14.1%
89 Ambridge 6,707 13.2%
90 West Mifflin 19,834 13.9%
91 West Chester 20,034 24.8%
92 Monaca 5,521 10.4%
93 Middl 9,315 15.9%
94 Warren 9,191 12.6%
95 Plymouth 5,820 18.2%
96 Easton 27,122 15.9%
97 Dubois 7,462 15.9%
98 Yeadon 11,485 11.3%
99 Sayre 5,450 15.4%
100 Kingston 12,873 13.6%

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