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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 187 places in Pennsylvania with more than 5,000 people.
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.
For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.
For more Pennsylvania reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Pennsylvania
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The 10 Poorest Cities In Pennsylvania For 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Pennsylvania