Wisconsin brings to mind images of Madison, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.
However, like all states, Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin that could use a helping hand.
To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 143 places in Wisconsin with more than 5,000 people.
We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Badger State for 2019:
- Whitewater (Photos)
- Milwaukee (Photos)
- Antigo (Photos)
- Beloit (Photos)
- Wisconsin Rapids (Photos)
- Racine (Photos)
- Wausau (Photos)
- Menomonie (Photos)
- La Crosse (Photos)
- Baraboo (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, Whitewater is the poorest place in Wisconsin for 2019.
For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Wisconsin
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Wisconsin
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Wisconsin
How We Determined The Poorest Places In Wisconsin 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 143 places with more than 5,000 people in Wisconsin, we ranked each place from 1 to 143 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, Whitewater, crowned the “Poorest Place In Wisconsin For 2019”.
You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 143 places.
Whitewater, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Wisconsin thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 14,762 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Wisconsin 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.
The second poorest city in Wisconsin is Milwaukee.
The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 3rd highest in the Badger State.
Placing as the third poorest city, Antigo’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 20.9% 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 Badger State.
Beloit ranks as the fourth poorest place in Wisconsin.
The town ranks as having the 6th lowest median household income and the 5th 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.
The fifth poorest city in Wisconsin is Wisconsin Rapids.
The city ranks as having the 5th 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 19th highest in Wisconsin.
Still not the best news for Wisconsin Rapids.
Racine ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Badger State.
It ranks as having the 9th highest incidence of poverty and the 6th highest unemployment rate.
Wausau places as the seventh poorest city in Wisconsin.
The city of over 38,934 ranks as having the 14th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Menomonie ranks as the eighth poorest city in Wisconsin.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 14th highest in the state.
La Crosse couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Wisconsin; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 17th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, La Crosse ranks as having the 4th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Wisconsin.
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Wisconsin is Baraboo.
The city of 12,080 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Badger State.
There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Wisconsin For 2019
Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Wisconsin, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Wisconsin.
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 Wisconsin, according to data:
Richest: Fox Point
2nd Richest: Whitefish Bay
3rd Richest: Elm Grove
For more Wisconsin reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Wisconsin
- 10 Safest Places In Wisconsin
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Wisconsin
Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Wisconsin
|19||Prairie Du Chien||5,715|
|28||Fond Du Lac||42,910|
|82||North Fond Du Lac||5,069|