Poorest Cities In Tennessee For 2021


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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in Tennessee.

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 98 places in Tennessee with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Tennessee for 2021:

  1. Newport
  2. La Follette
  3. Bolivar
  4. Union City
  5. Ripley
  6. Morristown
  7. Dayton
  8. Athens
  9. Savannah
  10. Humboldt

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 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best 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 2021

1. Newport

Newport, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,848
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $24,124 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 42.9% (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 6,848 people averages the lowest median household income in Tennessee and the 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. La Follette

La Follette, TN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 6,857
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $30,876 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 20.4% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.1% (4th highest)
More on La Follette:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Tennessee is La Follette.

The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the highest in the Volunteer State.

3. Bolivar

Bolivar, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,031
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 8)
Median Income: $32,064 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 20.4% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.9% (13th highest)
More on Bolivar:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Bolivar's median income ranks as the 9th 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 27.915556466489033% 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.

4. Union City

Union City, TN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,424
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 11)
Median Income: $28,580 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (2highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.0% (5th highest)
More on Union City:  Data | Photos

Union City ranks as the fourth poorest place in Tennessee.

The town ranks as having the 2nd 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.

5. Ripley

Ripley, TN

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 7,947
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $33,533 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.6% (8th highest)
More on Ripley:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Tennessee is Ripley.

The city ranks as having the 16th 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 8th highest in Tennessee.

Still not the best news for Ripley.

6. Morristown

Morristown, TN

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 29,782
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 7)
Median Income: $32,193 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (17th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.6% (14th highest)
More on Morristown:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 14th highest incidence of poverty and the 17th highest unemployment rate.

7. Dayton

Dayton, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,344
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $36,393 (24th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.1% (12th highest)
More on Dayton:  Data | Photos

Dayton places as the seventh poorest city in Tennessee.

The city of over 7,344 ranks as having the 12th 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. Athens

Athens, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 13,851
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $31,913 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (26th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.3% (9th highest)
More on Athens:  Data | Photos

Athens ranks as the eighth poorest city in Tennessee.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 26th highest in the state.

9. Savannah

Savannah, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,947
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Income: $36,758 (25th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (18th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.4% (2nd highest)
More on Savannah:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 25th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Savannah ranks as having the 2nd most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Tennessee.

10. Humboldt

Humboldt, TN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,169
Rank Last Year: 41 (Up 31)
Median Income: $31,165 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (30th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.3% (10th highest)
More on Humboldt:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 8,169 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 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 98 places with more than 5,000 people in Tennessee, we ranked each place from 1 to 98 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 2021". You can download the data here.

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

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: Brentwood
    3rd Richest: Farragut

For more Tennessee reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Tennessee

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Newport 6,848 42.9%
2 La Follette 6,857 31.1%
3 Bolivar 5,031 27.9%
4 Union City 10,424 31.0%
5 Ripley 7,947 29.6%
6 Morristown 29,782 26.6%
7 Dayton 7,344 28.1%
8 Athens 13,851 28.3%
9 Savannah 6,947 33.4%
10 Humboldt 8,169 28.3%
11 Mcminnville 13,695 31.6%
12 Lexington 7,848 24.8%
13 Lawrenceburg 10,877 25.4%
14 Pulaski 7,643 28.2%
15 Henderson 6,289 25.3%
16 Martin 10,635 30.2%
17 Dyersburg 16,476 25.1%
18 Mckenzie 5,328 24.3%
19 Cookeville 33,454 25.1%
20 Memphis 651,932 25.1%
21 Crossville 11,545 20.8%
22 Rockwood 5,423 22.2%
23 Fayetteville 7,034 25.7%
24 Harriman 6,126 18.9%
25 Paris 10,043 24.7%
26 Brownsville 9,647 24.6%
27 Lafayette 5,171 30.2%
28 Jefferson City 8,237 22.9%
29 Lewisburg 11,910 20.0%
30 Covington 8,857 24.7%
31 Bristol 26,852 20.8%
32 Elizabethton 13,577 22.8%
33 Erwin 5,921 25.9%
34 Sweetwater 5,873 17.5%
35 Lenoir City 9,162 21.8%
36 Knoxville 186,173 24.3%
37 Millington 10,645 18.6%
38 Johnson City 66,515 20.9%
39 Jackson 66,870 22.5%
40 Kingsport 53,376 18.9%
41 Clinton 9,964 17.6%
42 Shelbyville 21,591 20.2%
43 Springfield 17,092 20.1%
44 Greeneville 14,942 18.2%
45 Chattanooga 179,690 17.6%
46 Milan 7,672 19.1%
47 Loudon 5,747 13.3%
48 Cleveland 44,595 19.5%
49 Clarksville 152,934 14.5%
50 Church Hill 6,667 15.1%
51 Alcoa 9,561 11.7%
52 Sevierville 16,743 20.4%
53 Tullahoma 19,852 18.3%
54 Dunlap 5,103 22.6%
55 Oak Ridge 29,037 15.6%
56 East Ridge 21,168 15.2%
57 Hartsville/trousdale County 10,231 10.2%
58 Red Bank 11,745 16.1%
59 Lebanon 33,159 14.0%
60 Greenbrier 6,818 11.6%
61 Columbia 38,380 13.9%
62 Murfreesboro 136,366 14.5%
63 Winchester 8,706 12.8%
64 Pigeon Forge 6,229 15.4%
65 Dickson 15,447 16.7%
66 Nashville 663,750 15.1%
67 Kingston 5,927 8.9%
68 Goodlettsville 16,870 10.8%
69 Portland 12,729 13.3%
70 Mount Carmel 5,293 12.9%
71 Soddy-Daisy 13,398 11.5%
72 Munford 6,034 10.3%
73 Smyrna 49,552 10.6%
74 Collegedale 11,275 13.5%
75 Maryville 28,974 11.4%
76 La Vergne 35,411 10.2%
77 Manchester 10,721 12.3%
78 Gallatin 38,156 11.7%
79 Fairview 8,762 9.2%
80 Hendersonville 57,083 6.2%
81 Bartlett 59,102 6.1%
82 Atoka 9,241 3.9%
83 Lakeland 12,606 6.5%
84 Jonesborough 5,427 8.4%
85 Mount Juliet 34,377 6.2%
86 Franklin 77,939 6.6%
87 White House 11,843 6.3%
88 Millersville 6,350 8.2%
89 Spring Hill 39,711 2.8%
90 Oakland 7,893 2.9%
91 Signal Mountain 8,539 1.9%
92 Germantown 39,193 2.5%
93 Thompson's Station 5,456 2.6%
94 Arlington 11,697 3.0%
95 Collierville 50,086 3.9%
96 Farragut 22,631 3.6%
97 Brentwood 42,407 2.5%
98 Nolensville 8,390 1.4%

How Is The Area In ?

 Poorest