Poorest Cities In Tennessee For 2020


We used science and data to determine which places in Tennessee 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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the poorest places in Tennessee.

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

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 97 places in Tennessee with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Tennessee for 2020:

  1. Newport (Photos)
  2. Erwin (Photos)
  3. La Follette (Photos)
  4. Ripley (Photos)
  5. Dayton (Photos)
  6. Athens (Photos)
  7. Savannah (Photos)
  8. Crossville (Photos)
  9. Covington (Photos)
  10. McMinnville (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.

What's the poorst city in Tennessee? According to the facts, Newport is the poorest place in Tennessee for 2020.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Tennessee 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 Tennessee reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Tennessee For 2020

Newport, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,757
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $23,500 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.8% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 40.7% (1st highest)
More on Newport:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 6,757 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Tennessee and the 1st 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.

Erwin, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,891
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $29,369 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.3% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.1% (5th highest)
More on Erwin:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Tennessee is Erwin.

The city ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 5th highest in the Volunteer State.

La Follette, TN

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 6,911
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 2)
Median Income: $27,903 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 17.4% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.0% (13th highest)
More on La Follette:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, La Follette's median income ranks as the 2nd 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 28.013029315960914% 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 Volunteer State.

Ripley, TN

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 8,023
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Income: $31,209 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.5% (7th highest)
More on Ripley:  Data | Photos

Ripley ranks as the fourth poorest place in Tennessee.

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.

Dayton, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,340
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 9)
Median Income: $31,208 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.5% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.7% (4th highest)
More on Dayton:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Tennessee is Dayton.

The city ranks as having the 8th 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 4th highest in Tennessee.

Still not the best news for Dayton.

Athens, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 13,752
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Income: $29,525 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (17th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.7% (10th highest)
More on Athens:  Data | Photos

Athens ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Volunteer State.

It ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty and the 17th highest unemployment rate.

Savannah, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,964
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $35,059 (24th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.5% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.3% (3rd highest)
More on Savannah:  Data | Photos

Savannah places as the seventh poorest city in Tennessee.

The city of over 6,964 ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Crossville, TN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,368
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $30,467 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (20th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.9% (14th highest)
More on Crossville:  Data | Photos

Crossville ranks as the eighth poorest city in Tennessee.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 20th highest in the state.

Covington, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,855
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $29,311 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (30th highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.5% (9th highest)
More on Covington:  Data | Photos

Covington couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in Tennessee; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 3rd lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Covington ranks as having the 9th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Tennessee.

Mcminnville, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 13,650
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 9)
Median Income: $32,320 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (27th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.4% (2nd highest)
More on Mcminnville:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Tennessee is McMinnville.

The city of 13,650 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Volunteer State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Tennessee for 2020

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 2014-2018 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 97 places with more than 5,000 people in Tennessee, we ranked each place from 1 to 97 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, Newport, crowned the "Poorest Place In Tennessee For 2020". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Tennessee For 2020

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

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 Tennessee, according to data:

    Richest: Nolensville
    2nd Richest: Arlington
    3rd Richest: Brentwood

For more Tennessee reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Tennessee

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Newport 6,757 40.7%
2 Erwin 5,891 34.1%
3 La Follette 6,911 28.0%
4 Ripley 8,023 31.5%
5 Dayton 7,340 34.7%
6 Athens 13,752 28.7%
7 Savannah 6,964 35.3%
8 Crossville 11,368 27.9%
9 Covington 8,855 29.5%
10 Mcminnville 13,650 35.4%
11 Bolivar 5,002 27.5%
12 Lawrenceburg 10,684 25.5%
13 Morristown 29,547 27.8%
14 Henderson 6,247 27.5%
15 Union City 10,478 31.8%
16 Mckenzie 5,363 24.2%
17 Brownsville 9,715 25.2%
18 Rockwood 5,419 25.4%
19 Harriman 6,136 20.9%
20 Memphis 653,248 26.8%
21 Dyersburg 16,559 23.4%
22 Cookeville 32,894 24.3%
23 Martin 10,721 28.6%
24 Lexington 7,735 26.2%
25 Lafayette 5,055 31.0%
26 Fayetteville 6,987 28.2%
27 Paris 10,042 24.5%
28 Lewisburg 11,638 21.2%
29 Pulaski 7,652 22.6%
30 Knoxville 185,429 26.2%
31 Jefferson City 8,235 23.1%
32 Greeneville 14,896 18.8%
33 Milan 7,703 19.9%
34 Kingsport 53,115 20.6%
35 Jackson 66,878 24.1%
36 Lenoir City 9,122 21.9%
37 Shelbyville 21,319 21.8%
38 Johnson City 66,037 21.7%
39 Millington 10,720 21.7%
40 Bristol 26,766 18.7%
41 Humboldt 8,226 26.7%
42 Elizabethton 13,555 21.4%
43 Springfield 16,787 19.0%
44 Chattanooga 177,365 18.8%
45 Cleveland 43,924 19.2%
46 Hartsville/trousdale County 9,573 15.9%
47 Sevierville 16,439 22.9%
48 Church Hill 6,681 14.2%
49 Tullahoma 19,669 18.2%
50 Loudon 5,687 15.9%
51 Sweetwater 5,870 14.3%
52 Clarksville 150,602 14.7%
53 Red Bank 11,748 17.2%
54 Alcoa 9,633 16.8%
55 Columbia 37,455 18.0%
56 Oak Ridge 29,030 15.4%
57 Munford 5,998 11.1%
58 Mount Carmel 5,327 14.3%
59 Clinton 9,908 16.0%
60 Pigeon Forge 6,197 15.3%
61 Soddy-Daisy 13,460 10.5%
62 Dickson 15,294 17.0%
63 East Ridge 21,134 16.6%
64 Lebanon 31,592 14.5%
65 La Vergne 35,237 11.6%
66 Greenbrier 6,770 11.3%
67 Murfreesboro 130,968 15.1%
68 Dunlap 5,083 16.5%
69 Portland 12,539 14.3%
70 Nashville 660,062 16.5%
71 Winchester 8,578 14.3%
72 Goodlettsville 16,900 14.2%
73 Maryville 28,520 10.9%
74 Smyrna 48,361 11.7%
75 Kingston 5,821 11.4%
76 Collegedale 11,256 12.8%
77 Gallatin 36,139 13.3%
78 Manchester 10,561 13.5%
79 Hendersonville 56,421 6.6%
80 Bartlett 58,828 6.4%
81 Oakland 7,707 4.3%
82 White House 11,513 6.6%
83 Millersville 6,570 9.4%
84 Franklin 75,366 6.5%
85 Fairview 8,599 8.1%
86 Jonesborough 5,321 6.6%
87 Signal Mountain 8,523 1.9%
88 Mount Juliet 32,882 7.7%
89 Lakeland 12,628 4.7%
90 Spring Hill 37,830 2.8%
91 Atoka 9,139 6.4%
92 Germantown 39,164 2.3%
93 Farragut 22,260 3.1%
94 Collierville 49,610 4.1%
95 Brentwood 41,987 2.8%
96 Arlington 11,689 2.2%
97 Nolensville 7,656 1.0%

How Is The Area In ?

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2 thoughts on “Poorest Cities In Tennessee, 2020

  1. Is Livingston,Tennessee better off or worse today than 10 years ago ,now under a Black Mayor, Curtis Hayes,The mayor only has a High school education without any business experience? with Population,Economy, Housing?
    I know the square is worse today than 10 years ago because of several business have closed on the square ,plus the pawn Shop had to close.

    And with over 33 empty building in Church and Main street.

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