Poorest Cities In Washington For 2020


We used science and data to determine which places in Washington 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 Washington.

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

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 120 places in Washington with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Washington for 2020:

  1. Pullman (Photos)
  2. Wapato (Photos)
  3. Kelso (Photos)
  4. Cheney (Photos)
  5. Sunnyside (Photos)
  6. Centralia (Photos)
  7. Ellensburg (Photos)
  8. Toppenish (Photos)
  9. Clarkston (Photos)
  10. Hoquiam (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 Washington? According to the facts, Pullman is the poorest place in Washington for 2020.

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

The 10 Poorest Cities In Washington For 2020

Pullman, WA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 33,050
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $30,205 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.4% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.2% (2nd highest)
More on Pullman:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 33,050 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Washington and the 2nd 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.

Wapato, WA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,041
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $38,208 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.4% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.6% (3rd highest)
More on Wapato:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Washington is Wapato.

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 1st highest in the Evergreen State.

Kelso, WA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,983
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $37,450 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.4% (5th highest)
More on Kelso:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Kelso's median income ranks as the 4th 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 27.372753233663698% 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 Evergreen State.

Cheney, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 11,962
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 3)
Median Income: $37,386 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.3% (1st highest)
More on Cheney:  Data | Photos

Cheney ranks as the fourth poorest place in Washington.

The town ranks as having the 3rd lowest median household income and the 1st 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.

Sunnyside, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 16,442
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $39,903 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.6% (9th highest)
More on Sunnyside:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Washington is Sunnyside.

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 9th highest in Washington.

Still not the best news for Sunnyside.

Centralia, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 16,932
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Income: $40,815 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.4% (14th highest)
More on Centralia:  Data | Photos

Centralia ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Evergreen State.

It ranks as having the 14th highest incidence of poverty and the 7th highest unemployment rate.

Ellensburg, WA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 19,799
Rank Last Year: 34 (Up 27)
Median Income: $40,126 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (23rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.6% (4th highest)
More on Ellensburg:  Data | Photos

Ellensburg places as the seventh poorest city in Washington.

The city of over 19,799 ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Toppenish, WA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 8,906
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Median Income: $43,823 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.4% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.1% (10th highest)
More on Toppenish:  Data | Photos

Toppenish ranks as the eighth poorest city in Washington.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 9th highest in the state.

Clarkston, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,360
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $36,854 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.8% (29th highest)
More on Clarkston:  Data | Photos

Clarkston couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in Washington; 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, Clarkston ranks as having the 29th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Washington.

Hoquiam, WA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,454
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Median Income: $42,250 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.3% (21st highest)
More on Hoquiam:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Washington is Hoquiam.

The city of 8,454 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Evergreen State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Washington 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 120 places with more than 5,000 people in Washington, we ranked each place from 1 to 120 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, Pullman, crowned the "Poorest Place In Washington For 2020". You can download the data here.

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

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

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 Washington, according to data:

    Richest: Sammamish
    2nd Richest: Snoqualmie
    3rd Richest: Bainbridge Island

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Washington

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Pullman 33,050 36.2%
2 Wapato 5,041 35.6%
3 Kelso 11,983 27.4%
4 Cheney 11,962 36.3%
5 Sunnyside 16,442 24.6%
6 Centralia 16,932 21.4%
7 Ellensburg 19,799 32.6%
8 Toppenish 8,906 24.1%
9 Clarkston 7,360 16.8%
10 Hoquiam 8,454 18.3%
11 Port Angeles 19,615 21.8%
12 Chehalis 7,404 17.6%
13 Longview 37,092 20.7%
14 Shelton 9,996 25.2%
15 Aberdeen 16,359 23.1%
16 Yakima 93,416 19.9%
17 Grandview 11,124 13.3%
18 Lakewood 59,606 17.4%
19 Quincy 7,531 17.7%
20 Bellingham 87,071 21.8%
21 Bremerton 40,220 17.7%
22 College Place 9,136 15.8%
23 Spokane 214,804 18.3%
24 Union Gap 6,142 27.0%
25 Tukwila 20,198 19.1%
26 Sequim 7,100 15.0%
27 Burlington 8,743 18.5%
28 Ocean Shores 5,814 10.7%
29 Othello 7,980 27.2%
30 Connell 5,482 19.8%
31 Port Townsend 9,428 16.6%
32 Olympia 50,836 16.7%
33 Mount Vernon 34,504 14.6%
34 Walla Walla 32,731 17.0%
35 Airway Heights 8,285 16.5%
36 Sedro-Woolley 11,579 13.5%
37 Kennewick 80,204 16.9%
38 Ferndale 13,622 14.5%
39 Everett 108,941 15.0%
40 Woodland 5,912 12.2%
41 Tacoma 210,103 15.9%
42 Yelm 8,772 10.1%
43 Spokane Valley 96,070 13.4%
44 Oak Harbor 22,820 12.1%
45 Vancouver 178,413 12.5%
46 Federal Way 96,110 12.7%
47 Pasco 71,858 16.5%
48 Port Orchard 13,788 14.7%
49 Ephrata 8,050 10.5%
50 Kent 128,057 13.7%
51 Burien 51,326 13.6%
52 Des Moines 31,518 11.8%
53 Lacey 47,852 10.0%
54 East Wenatchee 13,817 18.0%
55 Blaine 5,172 9.2%
56 Auburn 79,110 12.6%
57 Moses Lake 22,663 11.4%
58 Wenatchee 34,094 12.2%
59 Seatac 28,925 12.4%
60 Enumclaw 11,768 10.0%
61 Fife 9,968 13.4%
62 Liberty Lake 9,382 6.3%
63 Tumwater 22,500 9.6%
64 Sumner 9,898 13.0%
65 Lynnwood 37,671 14.0%
66 Poulsbo 10,301 7.1%
67 North Bend 6,830 14.7%
68 Dupont 9,379 6.4%
69 Fircrest 6,711 6.9%
70 University Place 32,907 10.0%
71 Stanwood 6,973 10.9%
72 Prosser 6,076 11.6%
73 Steilacoom 6,270 10.1%
74 Puyallup 40,305 8.2%
75 Orting 7,732 9.3%
76 Snohomish 9,875 10.6%
77 Anacortes 16,725 9.9%
78 Marysville 67,567 7.2%
79 Richland 55,043 8.5%
80 Gig Harbor 9,382 4.5%
81 Selah 7,766 8.7%
82 Renton 101,054 9.9%
83 Battle Ground 19,932 8.0%
84 Seattle 708,823 11.8%
85 Arlington 19,154 7.1%
86 Monroe 18,503 7.7%
87 Shoreline 56,020 8.5%
88 West Richland 14,187 9.7%
89 Milton 7,543 6.6%
90 Mountlake Terrace 21,106 6.9%
91 Issaquah 36,938 8.1%
92 Maple Valley 25,953 4.5%
93 Sultan 5,040 7.3%
94 Pacific 7,177 5.9%
95 Bothell 44,994 5.7%
96 Lynden 13,862 6.0%
97 Kenmore 22,546 6.8%
98 Washougal 15,484 7.6%
99 Lake Stevens 31,778 7.3%
100 Mukilteo 21,264 3.8%

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