These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Washington For 2018


We used science and data to determine which places in Washington are basically dead broke.

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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 118 places in Washington with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Evergreen State for 2018:

  1. Cheney (Photos)
  2. Pullman (Photos)
  3. Wapato (Photos)
  4. Kelso (Photos)
  5. Grandview (Photos)
  6. Toppenish (Photos)
  7. Longview (Photos)
  8. Hoquiam (Photos)
  9. Shelton (Photos)
  10. Port Angeles (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, Cheney is the poorest place in Washington for 2018.

Rich people not 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.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Washington For 2018

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 2012-2016 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 118 places with more than 5,000 people in Washington, we ranked each place from 1 to 118 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, Cheney, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In Washington For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 118 places.

1. Cheney

Cheney, Washington

Population: 11,479
Median Income: $31,004
Unemployment Rate: 11.9%
Poverty Rate: 39.6%
More on Cheney: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 11,479 people averages the 2nd 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.

2. Pullman

Pullman, Washington

Population: 32,176
Median Income: $27,831
Unemployment Rate: 11.0%
Poverty Rate: 40.8%
More on Pullman: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Washington is Pullman.

The city ranks as having the 1st highest incidence of poverty and 1st lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 10th highest in the Evergreen State.

3. Wapato

Wapato, Washington

Population: 5,062
Median Income: $34,183
Unemployment Rate: 13.0%
Poverty Rate: 36.0%
More on Wapato: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Wapato’s median income ranks as the 5th 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 36.0% 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.

4. Kelso

Kelso, Washington

Population: 11,871
Median Income: $34,556
Unemployment Rate: 14.7%
Poverty Rate: 29.7%
More on Kelso: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Kelso ranks as the fourth poorest place in Washington.

The town ranks as having the 7th lowest median household income and the 6th 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. Grandview

Grandview, Washington

Population: 11,098
Median Income: $38,936
Unemployment Rate: 16.0%
Poverty Rate: 22.5%
More on Grandview: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Washington is Grandview.

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 14th highest in Washington.

Still not the best news for Grandview.

6. Toppenish

Toppenish, Washington

Population: 8,977
Median Income: $37,109
Unemployment Rate: 9.7%
Poverty Rate: 34.1%
More on Toppenish: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

It ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and the 20th highest unemployment rate.

7. Longview

Longview, Washington

Source: Public domain

Population: 36,720
Median Income: $38,793
Unemployment Rate: 11.5%
Poverty Rate: 23.4%
More on Longview: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Longview places as the seventh poorest city in Washington.

The city of over 36,720 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.

User comment that mentions Longview: I grew up in Longview Washington I love it’s caracter||Yes it’s not perfect but it is home and if the city wants to have visitors then everyone should come and visit and help by spending money at our down town corridor and check out the shops and stores in order to improve maybe bring an employer or two and also help put people back to work

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

8. Hoquiam

Hoquiam, Washington

Population: 8,434
Median Income: $37,628
Unemployment Rate: 13.2%
Poverty Rate: 21.1%
More on Hoquiam: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Hoquiam ranks as the eighth poorest city in Washington.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 4th highest in the state.

9. Shelton

Shelton, Washington

Population: 9,832
Median Income: $38,550
Unemployment Rate: 10.6%
Poverty Rate: 24.3%
More on Shelton: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

While the median income is the 13th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Shelton ranks as having the 11th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Washington.

10. Port Angeles

Port Angeles, Washington

Population: 19,420
Median Income: $40,398
Unemployment Rate: 11.0%
Poverty Rate: 22.3%
More on Port Angeles: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 19,420 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Evergreen State.

User comment that mentions Port Angeles: Never would have guessed Port Angeles. I visit there every year for the crab festival. Now nearby Forks would make sense, since it’s a tiny, secluded town in the middle of the forest &, a 2 hour drive from the nearest town.||||Buuut…I’ll admit that the last time I visited Port Angeles, a lot more business buildings were vacant, & while they have many hotels, the Olympic Lodge is the only 4 star hotel, & because of that, they’re often completely booked.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Washington For 2018

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: Snoqualmie
2nd Richest: Sammamish
3rd Richest: Woodinville

For more Washington reading , check out:

  • 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Washington
  • 10 Best Places To Live In Washington
  • 10 Worst Places To Live In Washington
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Washington

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Cheney 39.6%
    2 Pullman 40.8%
    3 Wapato 36.0%
    4 Kelso 29.7%
    5 Grandview 22.5%
    6 Toppenish 34.1%
    7 Longview 23.4%
    8 Hoquiam 21.1%
    9 Shelton 24.3%
    10 Port Angeles 22.3%
    11 Clarkston 21.1%
    12 Yakima 22.9%
    13 Centralia 22.5%
    14 Airway Heights 21.1%
    15 Aberdeen 21.6%
    16 Lakewood 20.3%
    17 Sedro-Woolley 21.4%
    18 Sunnyside 24.5%
    19 Walla Walla 21.9%
    20 Quincy 20.5%
    21 Bellingham 22.2%
    22 Yelm 18.4%
    23 Burlington 20.5%
    24 Ocean Shores 10.2%
    25 Bremerton 19.6%
    26 Ellensburg 36.7%
    27 Spokane 19.7%
    28 Sequim 12.9%
    29 Chehalis 20.5%
    30 Union Gap 26.5%
    31 Mount Vernon 19.6%
    32 Tukwila 21.5%
    33 Moses Lake 14.5%
    34 Oak Harbor 14.0%
    35 Everett 17.6%
    36 Connell 29.5%
    37 Olympia 17.1%
    38 Tacoma 17.9%
    39 Ferndale 16.1%
    40 Port Orchard 15.4%
    41 Seatac 18.1%
    42 Vancouver 13.5%
    43 Kennewick 17.6%
    44 Spokane Valley 14.5%
    45 Ephrata 16.0%
    46 Pacific 11.8%
    47 Othello 26.6%
    48 Fife 13.6%
    49 Wenatchee 13.5%
    50 Pasco 16.9%
    51 College Place 17.7%
    52 Auburn 14.5%
    53 Lacey 10.6%
    54 Port Townsend 13.4%
    55 East Wenatchee 16.5%
    56 Burien 17.4%
    57 Kent 15.2%
    58 Federal Way 13.5%
    59 Des Moines 13.6%
    60 Enumclaw 12.9%
    61 Lynnwood 14.8%
    62 Sumner 14.6%
    63 Liberty Lake 7.8%
    64 University Place 11.4%
    65 Gig Harbor 6.2%
    66 Battle Ground 11.7%
    67 Puyallup 10.7%
    68 Stanwood 14.0%
    69 Steilacoom 12.0%
    70 Dupont 7.0%
    71 Arlington 11.1%
    72 Snohomish 12.2%
    73 Selah 13.2%
    74 Marysville 7.8%
    75 North Bend 13.2%
    76 Fircrest 5.9%
    77 Washougal 9.1%
    78 Shoreline 9.9%
    79 Tumwater 8.6%
    80 Prosser 12.2%
    81 Anacortes 10.0%
    82 Woodland 15.5%
    83 Monroe 10.4%
    84 Renton 11.9%
    85 West Richland 9.2%
    86 Richland 10.5%
    87 Orting 10.1%
    88 Seattle 13.0%
    89 Bonney Lake 8.4%
    90 Mountlake Terrace 7.6%
    91 Bothell 6.7%
    92 Maple Valley 4.2%
    93 Poulsbo 6.4%
    94 Milton 6.1%
    95 Edmonds 7.1%
    96 Lake Stevens 7.6%
    97 Duvall 7.8%
    98 Lynden 6.7%
    99 Lake Forest Park 4.8%
    100 Kenmore 7.4%

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