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:
- Duquesne (Photos)
- Johnstown (Photos)
- Chester (Photos)
- Reading (Photos)
- Mckeesport (Photos)
- Indiana (Photos)
- York (Photos)
- Stroudsburg (Photos)
- Clairton (Photos)
- 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.
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.
Population: 5,534Median Income: $21,495
Unemployment Rate: 24.8%
Poverty Rate: 40.2%
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.
Population: 20,169Median Income: $24,075
Unemployment Rate: 15.7%
Poverty Rate: 37.0%
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.
Population: 34,056Median Income: $27,217
Unemployment Rate: 19.0%
Poverty Rate: 36.9%
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.
Population: 87,899Median Income: $27,247
Unemployment Rate: 18.8%
Poverty Rate: 39.3%
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.
Population: 19,529Median Income: $26,271
Unemployment Rate: 15.2%
Poverty Rate: 33.3%
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.
Population: 14,002Median Income: $28,103
Unemployment Rate: 12.3%
Poverty Rate: 42.6%
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.
Population: 43,848Median Income: $30,068
Unemployment Rate: 13.4%
Poverty Rate: 36.0%
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.
Population: 5,486Median Income: $31,453
Unemployment Rate: 14.8%
Poverty Rate: 34.2%
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.
Population: 6,719Median Income: $30,513
Unemployment Rate: 14.5%
Poverty Rate: 30.3%
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.
Population: 5,019Median Income: $25,599
Unemployment Rate: 10.0%
Poverty Rate: 36.3%
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
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