Poorest Cities In Washington For 2021


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

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 2021:

  1. Pullman
  2. Wapato
  3. Cheney
  4. Kelso
  5. Ellensburg
  6. Shelton
  7. Clarkston
  8. Sunnyside
  9. Connell
  10. Chehalis

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 2021.

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

1. Pullman

Pullman, WA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 33,598
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $31,487 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.9% (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 33,598 people averages the lowest median household income in Washington 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. Wapato

Wapato, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,041
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $40,772 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.6% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.9% (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 7th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the highest in the Evergreen State.

3. Cheney

Cheney, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 12,165
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $40,573 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.4% (2nd highest)
More on Cheney:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Cheney's median income ranks as the 6th 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 34.352159468438536% 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, WA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 12,123
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $39,044 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.7% (9th highest)
More on Kelso:  Data | Photos

Kelso ranks as the fourth poorest place in Washington.

The town ranks as having the 2nd lowest median household income and the 9th 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. Ellensburg

Ellensburg, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 20,167
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Income: $39,645 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (20th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.9% (4th highest)
More on Ellensburg:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Washington is Ellensburg.

The city ranks as having the 3rd 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 Washington.

Still not the best news for Ellensburg.

6. Shelton

Shelton, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,167
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 8)
Median Income: $40,809 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (16th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.9% (6th highest)
More on Shelton:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty and the 16th highest unemployment rate.

7. Clarkston

Clarkston, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,381
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Income: $40,186 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.5% (17th highest)
More on Clarkston:  Data | Photos

Clarkston places as the seventh poorest city in Washington.

The city of over 7,381 ranks as having the 17th 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. Sunnyside

Sunnyside, WA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 16,559
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $42,780 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.6% (10th highest)
More on Sunnyside:  Data | Photos

Sunnyside ranks as the eighth poorest city in Washington.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 12th highest in the state.

9. Connell

Connell, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,517
Rank Last Year: 30 (Up 21)
Median Income: $51,154 (27th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.0% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.6% (8th highest)
More on Connell:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 27th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Connell ranks as having the 8th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Washington.

10. Chehalis

Chehalis, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,497
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $42,209 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.7% (25th highest)
More on Chehalis:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 7,497 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 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 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 2021". You can download the data here.

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

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: Duvall

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Washington

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Pullman 33,598 35.9%
2 Wapato 5,041 30.9%
3 Cheney 12,165 34.4%
4 Kelso 12,123 23.7%
5 Ellensburg 20,167 30.9%
6 Shelton 10,167 26.9%
7 Clarkston 7,381 18.5%
8 Sunnyside 16,559 22.6%
9 Connell 5,517 24.6%
10 Chehalis 7,497 16.7%
11 Aberdeen 16,456 22.4%
12 Centralia 17,216 17.7%
13 Toppenish 8,873 17.9%
14 Union Gap 6,163 25.9%
15 Longview 37,520 19.0%
16 Yakima 93,413 20.4%
17 Grandview 11,116 15.7%
18 Port Angeles 19,832 17.4%
19 Quincy 7,646 22.1%
20 Burlington 8,881 18.4%
21 Othello 8,100 28.2%
22 Tukwila 20,196 17.2%
23 Bellingham 88,764 20.8%
24 Lakewood 60,111 16.6%
25 Airway Heights 8,560 20.9%
26 Hoquiam 8,495 14.6%
27 Bremerton 40,631 16.5%
28 Spokane 217,353 17.3%
29 Sequim 7,248 13.6%
30 Ocean Shores 5,975 11.8%
31 College Place 9,182 15.5%
32 Kennewick 81,479 15.5%
33 Port Townsend 9,551 15.6%
34 Pasco 72,899 15.5%
35 Moses Lake 23,056 11.9%
36 Ephrata 8,072 7.7%
37 Walla Walla 32,793 15.5%
38 Olympia 51,534 15.7%
39 Seatac 29,019 12.9%
40 Spokane Valley 97,562 12.3%
41 Mount Vernon 35,026 14.3%
42 Sedro-Woolley 11,739 13.7%
43 Prosser 6,202 18.1%
44 Port Orchard 14,062 14.0%
45 Tacoma 212,869 14.6%
46 Sumner 10,053 12.4%
47 East Wenatchee 13,960 15.8%
48 Oak Harbor 23,089 9.6%
49 Tumwater 22,974 8.7%
50 Everett 109,766 12.8%
51 Blaine 5,313 7.5%
52 Burien 51,477 12.5%
53 Des Moines 31,734 9.8%
54 Federal Way 96,526 12.1%
55 Lacey 49,248 10.1%
56 Vancouver 180,556 12.7%
57 Enumclaw 11,879 10.2%
58 Kent 131,118 13.4%
59 Orting 8,012 9.1%
60 Ferndale 14,043 11.9%
61 Fife 10,096 12.1%
62 Wenatchee 34,188 14.1%
63 Yelm 8,985 6.7%
64 Auburn 80,134 10.7%
65 Lynnwood 38,143 13.6%
66 Liberty Lake 9,836 3.8%
67 Selah 7,856 9.5%
68 Snohomish 9,976 8.9%
69 Woodland 6,071 6.1%
70 Poulsbo 10,602 7.5%
71 University Place 33,326 9.4%
72 Dupont 9,435 5.1%
73 Battle Ground 20,406 8.7%
74 Puyallup 40,991 7.5%
75 Lynden 14,281 7.7%
76 Anacortes 16,977 8.8%
77 Fircrest 6,795 7.3%
78 North Bend 6,983 11.9%
79 Seattle 724,305 11.0%
80 Richland 56,399 8.9%
81 Marysville 68,633 7.2%
82 Renton 101,484 9.3%
83 Steilacoom 6,303 7.6%
84 Milton 7,715 5.7%
85 West Richland 14,495 8.3%
86 Pacific 7,215 7.0%
87 Monroe 18,865 7.3%
88 Shoreline 56,267 7.7%
89 Mountlake Terrace 21,210 7.3%
90 Normandy Park 6,670 5.7%
91 Issaquah 37,965 7.8%
92 Gig Harbor 9,854 4.1%
93 Sultan 5,166 4.4%
94 Washougal 15,769 7.4%
95 Bothell 45,749 5.7%
96 Arlington 19,483 5.0%
97 Lake Stevens 32,487 6.8%
98 Stanwood 7,068 7.5%
99 Maple Valley 26,352 3.5%
100 Mukilteo 21,336 3.4%

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