These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Washington For 2019


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 2019. This is our fourth 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 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 2019:

  1. Cheney (Photos)
  2. Pullman (Photos)
  3. Kelso (Photos)
  4. Wapato (Photos)
  5. Sunnyside (Photos)
  6. Longview (Photos)
  7. Hoquiam (Photos)
  8. Shelton (Photos)
  9. Centralia (Photos)
  10. Clarkston (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 2019.

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.

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:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Washington 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 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 2019”.

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

Cheney, WA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 11,735
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $34,103 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 38.7% (1st highest)
More on Cheney:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 11,735 people averages the 2nd lowest median household income in Washington 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.

Pullman, WA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 32,382
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $30,548 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.5% (2nd highest)
More on Pullman:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Washington is Pullman.

The city ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and 1st lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 11th highest in the Evergreen State.

Kelso, WA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,864
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $35,680 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.7% (7th highest)
More on Kelso:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Kelso’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 28.7% 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.

Wapato, WA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,049
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,503 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.4% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.0% (4th highest)
More on Wapato:  Data | Photos

Wapato ranks as the fourth poorest place in Washington.

The town ranks as having the 7th lowest median household income and the 4th 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: 16,248
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 13)
Median Income: $40,058 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.4% (10th highest)
More on Sunnyside:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Washington is Sunnyside.

The city ranks as having the 13th 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.

Longview, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 36,740
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $38,689 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.0% (14th highest)
More on Longview:  Data | Photos

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

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

Hoquiam, WA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,416
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $40,301 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.8% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.6% (22nd highest)
More on Hoquiam:  Data | Photos

Hoquiam places as the seventh poorest city in Washington.

The city of over 8,416 ranks as having the 22nd highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Shelton, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 9,882
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $39,072 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (20th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.0% (11th highest)
More on Shelton:  Data | Photos

Shelton ranks as the eighth poorest city in Washington.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 20th highest in the state.

Centralia, WA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 16,771
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Median Income: $39,324 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (16th highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.2% (17th highest)
More on Centralia:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 12th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Centralia ranks as having the 17th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Washington.

Clarkston, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,344
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Median Income: $35,000 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (21st highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.0% (21st highest)
More on Clarkston:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 7,344 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Evergreen State.

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

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: Mercer Island

For more Washington reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Washington

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Cheney 11,735 38.7%
2 Pullman 32,382 37.5%
3 Kelso 11,864 28.7%
4 Wapato 5,049 33.0%
5 Sunnyside 16,248 25.4%
6 Longview 36,740 23.0%
7 Hoquiam 8,416 19.6%
8 Shelton 9,882 24.0%
9 Centralia 16,771 21.2%
10 Clarkston 7,344 20.0%
11 Toppenish 8,923 29.6%
12 Port Angeles 19,419 23.3%
13 Grandview 11,112 17.6%
14 Chehalis 7,337 21.2%
15 Aberdeen 16,281 23.3%
16 Sequim 6,819 14.4%
17 Lakewood 59,102 19.3%
18 Yakima 93,182 20.4%
19 Union Gap 6,152 29.2%
20 Tukwila 20,025 21.2%
21 Burlington 8,590 20.3%
22 Bellingham 85,388 21.6%
23 Quincy 7,333 17.6%
24 Walla Walla 32,585 18.7%
25 Bremerton 39,584 18.1%
26 Ocean Shores 5,714 10.7%
27 Spokane 212,982 19.4%
28 Olympia 49,928 18.4%
29 Connell 5,447 25.4%
30 Oak Harbor 22,527 13.4%
31 Everett 107,560 16.3%
32 Mount Vernon 33,787 17.5%
33 Yelm 8,425 13.4%
34 Ellensburg 19,307 34.1%
35 Tacoma 207,280 17.0%
36 Airway Heights 8,017 16.4%
37 Kennewick 78,858 16.7%
38 Vancouver 171,393 14.0%
39 Ferndale 13,171 14.4%
40 Fife 9,805 14.6%
41 College Place 9,041 14.2%
42 Fircrest 6,666 13.4%
43 Othello 7,797 25.9%
44 Seatac 28,597 15.5%
45 Burien 50,729 15.2%
46 Spokane Valley 94,424 14.1%
47 Port Townsend 9,315 13.4%
48 Pasco 70,607 16.5%
49 Kent 126,561 14.8%
50 Moses Lake 22,038 14.0%
51 Wenatchee 33,544 12.6%
52 East Wenatchee 13,624 17.7%
53 Auburn 77,440 13.6%
54 Sumner 9,789 14.0%
55 University Place 32,528 11.3%
56 Ephrata 7,956 11.0%
57 Enumclaw 11,670 13.0%
58 Federal Way 94,905 12.3%
59 Lacey 46,655 9.8%
60 Des Moines 31,080 12.0%
61 Snohomish 9,713 12.3%
62 Lynnwood 37,242 14.4%
63 Blaine 5,075 7.2%
64 Dupont 9,303 6.7%
65 Port Orchard 13,476 13.1%
66 North Bend 6,645 13.2%
67 Tumwater 22,005 9.7%
68 Puyallup 39,637 10.6%
69 Liberty Lake 8,905 5.4%
70 Woodland 5,765 14.5%
71 Pacific 7,113 7.0%
72 Gig Harbor 8,651 5.6%
73 Orting 7,460 11.5%
74 Marysville 66,178 9.0%
75 Monroe 18,149 11.2%
76 Poulsbo 10,005 7.6%
77 Stanwood 6,825 11.1%
78 Prosser 5,967 11.3%
79 Arlington 18,884 10.1%
80 Anacortes 16,425 10.0%
81 Battle Ground 19,439 10.4%
82 Steilacoom 6,199 10.0%
83 West Richland 13,797 9.5%
84 Selah 7,652 9.3%
85 Seattle 688,245 12.5%
86 Renton 99,692 10.9%
87 Richland 53,991 9.9%
88 Mountlake Terrace 20,922 7.6%
89 Milton 7,481 5.6%
90 Washougal 15,241 9.1%
91 Shoreline 55,431 9.0%
92 Maple Valley 25,375 4.5%
93 Bothell 44,082 5.9%
94 Bonney Lake 19,560 7.6%
95 Lynden 13,452 7.4%
96 Lake Stevens 31,022 8.3%
97 Issaquah 35,629 7.2%
98 Mukilteo 21,101 4.9%
99 Camas 22,086 3.7%
100 Edmonds 41,309 6.1%

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