These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Tennessee For 2019

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 2019. This is our fourth 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 95 places in Tennessee with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Volunteer State for 2019:

  1. Newport (Photos)
  2. Ripley (Photos)
  3. Martin (Photos)
  4. Erwin (Photos)
  5. La Follette (Photos)
  6. Savannah (Photos)
  7. Bolivar (Photos)
  8. Covington (Photos)
  9. Crossville (Photos)
  10. Athens (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, Newport is the poorest place in Tennessee for 2019.

Rich people not 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:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Tennessee for 2019

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 2013-2017 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 95 places with more than 5,000 people in Tennessee, we ranked each place from 1 to 95 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 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 95 places.

Newport, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,780
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $22,127 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 40.8% (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 6,780 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.

Ripley, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,148
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $27,309 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.5% (2nd highest)
More on Ripley:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Tennessee is Ripley.

The city ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 6th highest in the Volunteer State.

Martin, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,797
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 4)
Median Income: $27,145 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.1% (4th highest)
More on Martin:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Martin’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 33.1% 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.

Erwin, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,921
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,473 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.0% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.6% (7th highest)
More on Erwin:  Data | Photos

Erwin ranks as the fourth poorest place in Tennessee.

The town ranks as having the 8th 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.

La Follette, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,983
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Income: $27,819 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.6% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.1% (12th highest)
More on La Follette:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Tennessee is La Follette.

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 Tennessee.

Still not the best news for La Follette.

Savannah, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,977
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 5)
Median Income: $29,890 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.3% (3rd highest)
More on Savannah:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and the 9th highest unemployment rate.

Bolivar, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,037
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $31,899 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.5% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.0% (13th highest)
More on Bolivar:  Data | Photos

Bolivar places as the seventh poorest city in Tennessee.

The city of over 5,037 ranks as having the 13th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Covington, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,921
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 10)
Median Income: $28,786 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.0% (17th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.9% (10th highest)
More on Covington:  Data | Photos

Covington ranks as the eighth poorest city in Tennessee.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 17th highest in the state.

Crossville, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,284
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,183 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (16th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.6% (11th highest)
More on Crossville:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 7th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Crossville ranks as having the 11th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Tennessee.

Athens, TN

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,559
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $31,177 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.5% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.3% (22nd highest)
More on Athens:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 13,559 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Volunteer State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Tennessee For 2019

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: Forest Hills

For more Tennessee reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Tennessee

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Newport 6,780 40.8%
2 Ripley 8,148 36.5%
3 Martin 10,797 33.1%
4 Erwin 5,921 31.6%
5 La Follette 6,983 29.1%
6 Savannah 6,977 33.3%
7 Bolivar 5,037 29.0%
8 Covington 8,921 30.9%
9 Crossville 11,284 30.6%
10 Athens 13,559 26.3%
11 Harriman 6,153 22.8%
12 Union City 10,479 31.7%
13 Fayetteville 6,976 30.9%
14 Dayton 7,341 31.8%
15 Rockwood 5,415 27.3%
16 Cookeville 32,536 28.7%
17 Henderson 6,237 27.7%
18 Morristown 29,446 26.9%
19 Mcminnville 13,591 31.5%
20 Lexington 7,731 26.9%
21 Lawrenceburg 10,614 20.3%
22 Memphis 654,723 26.9%
23 Mckenzie 5,455 24.1%
24 Dyersburg 16,666 21.9%
25 Jefferson City 8,220 22.3%
26 Lewisburg 11,457 20.8%
27 Greeneville 14,895 20.4%
28 Knoxville 184,465 26.5%
29 Brownsville 9,829 23.7%
30 Lenoir City 9,007 23.9%
31 Elizabethton 13,796 22.3%
32 Shelbyville 21,028 23.8%
33 Paris 10,059 22.5%
34 Jackson 66,977 24.7%
35 Cleveland 43,496 22.0%
36 Humboldt 8,155 28.0%
37 Sevierville 16,387 23.3%
38 Kingsport 52,698 20.0%
39 Johnson City 65,598 22.3%
40 Pulaski 7,653 20.2%
41 Bristol 26,668 16.7%
42 Chattanooga 176,291 20.7%
43 Sweetwater 5,842 14.9%
44 Springfield 16,692 19.1%
45 Millington 11,073 23.3%
46 Tullahoma 19,037 18.4%
47 Milan 7,715 20.3%
48 Loudon 5,697 21.5%
49 Hartsville/trousdale County 8,773 13.3%
50 Columbia 36,635 19.5%
51 Greenbrier 6,720 10.8%
52 Red Bank 11,744 20.0%
53 Oak Ridge 29,009 15.2%
54 Dickson 15,128 19.5%
55 Clarksville 147,771 15.3%
56 Lebanon 30,212 15.0%
57 Church Hill 6,686 14.0%
58 Dunlap 5,061 14.0%
59 Pigeon Forge 6,147 16.0%
60 Mount Carmel 5,386 13.7%
61 Munford 6,009 13.8%
62 Clinton 9,961 15.2%
63 Portland 12,258 16.6%
64 Murfreesboro 126,188 15.0%
65 Winchester 8,467 12.9%
66 Alcoa 9,343 19.1%
67 Kingston 5,812 11.5%
68 East Ridge 21,193 13.9%
69 Maryville 28,208 11.8%
70 La Vergne 34,905 10.4%
71 Smyrna 46,885 11.8%
72 Gallatin 34,495 12.9%
73 Goodlettsville 16,935 12.1%
74 Manchester 10,430 14.7%
75 Millersville 6,760 8.4%
76 Oakland 7,508 4.7%
77 Jonesborough 5,275 8.4%
78 White House 11,107 6.7%
79 Fairview 8,442 8.3%
80 Hendersonville 55,635 6.4%
81 Collegedale 10,902 10.3%
82 Bartlett 58,640 6.7%
83 Mount Juliet 31,397 7.4%
84 Signal Mountain 8,507 2.3%
85 Franklin 72,990 7.0%
86 Atoka 8,994 5.8%
87 Farragut 21,975 4.3%
88 Lakeland 12,623 3.3%
89 Spring Hill 35,995 3.1%
90 Collierville 48,960 4.7%
91 Germantown 39,230 3.2%
92 Brentwood 41,524 2.9%
93 Forest Hills 5,002 3.7%
94 Arlington 11,678 1.8%
95 Nolensville 7,119 1.6%


2 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Tennessee For 2019

  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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