These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Wisconsin For 2018


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

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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 2018:

  1. Whitewater (Photos)
  2. Milwaukee (Photos)
  3. Antigo (Photos)
  4. Beloit (Photos)
  5. Racine (Photos)
  6. Stevens Point (Photos)
  7. Menomonie (Photos)
  8. Wisconsin Rapids (Photos)
  9. Rice Lake (Photos)
  10. Superior (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 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 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 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 143 places.

1. Whitewater

Whitewater, Wisconsin

Population: 14,840
Median Income: $30,934
Unemployment Rate: 8.8%
Poverty Rate: 38.2%
More on Whitewater: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 14,840 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.

2. Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Population: 598,672
Median Income: $36,801
Unemployment Rate: 10.3%
Poverty Rate: 28.4%
More on Milwaukee: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in Wisconsin is Milwaukee.

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 3rd highest in the Badger State.

User comment that mentions Milwaukee: Why is everone hating on Milwaukee-I’ve lived there my whole life and I love it!

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

3. Antigo

Antigo, Wisconsin

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,930
Median Income: $35,700
Unemployment Rate: 8.9%
Poverty Rate: 22.0%
More on Antigo: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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 22.0% 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 Badger State.

User comment that mentions Antigo: I live in Antigo. We should be ranked much higher than 9.

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

4. Beloit

Beloit, Wisconsin

Population: 36,812
Median Income: $37,779
Unemployment Rate: 12.0%
Poverty Rate: 24.1%
More on Beloit: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Beloit ranks as the fourth poorest place in Wisconsin.

The town ranks as having the 8th lowest median household income and the 7th 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. Racine

Racine, Wisconsin

Population: 77,931
Median Income: $41,178
Unemployment Rate: 10.9%
Poverty Rate: 21.9%
More on Racine: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in Wisconsin is Racine.

The city ranks as having the 18th 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 Wisconsin.

Still not the best news for Racine.

User comment that mentions Racine: Racine had it’s ability to annex legally blocked back in the sixties. While other cities have annexed affluent neighborhoods surrounding its core, Racine has not. That has made Racine look terrible statistically ever since. By comparison, Kenosha has annexed all the way to the interstate and beyond. Had Racine been able to do the same, statistically we would rank much higher.

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

6. Stevens Point

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Population: 26,714
Median Income: $41,944
Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
Poverty Rate: 24.8%
More on Stevens Point: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Stevens Point ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Badger State.

It ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty and the 11th highest unemployment rate.

7. Menomonie

Menomonie, Wisconsin

Population: 16,295
Median Income: $40,538
Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
Poverty Rate: 26.1%
More on Menomonie: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Menomonie places as the seventh poorest city in Wisconsin.

The city of over 16,295 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.

8. Wisconsin Rapids

Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

Population: 17,987
Median Income: $35,775
Unemployment Rate: 7.6%
Poverty Rate: 14.5%
More on Wisconsin Rapids: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Wisconsin Rapids ranks as the eighth poorest city in Wisconsin.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 10th highest in the state.

9. Rice Lake

Rice Lake, Wisconsin

Population: 8,343
Median Income: $37,763
Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
Poverty Rate: 17.1%
More on Rice Lake: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Rice Lake couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Wisconsin; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 7th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Rice Lake ranks as having the 23rd most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Wisconsin.

User comment that mentions Rice Lake: Well, I think we have a WI hater here. Sounds like you think we only live in the summer here. I am over 60 and there is so much to do here in the winter also including awesome snowsports and ICE FISHING which is one of the best sports ever! If you do not know the peace and friendliness of our great state, you need to visit here. I have lived in Rice Lake all my life and love this city and northwest WI. Perhaps your crime data is because we have an awesome police force here and they stay on top of it. Many residents don’t even lock their doors here and have never been robbed! Imagine that! This is a beautiful area to live and I do agree that our wages could be higher, but this city Rice Lake is lucky enough to be the beginning edge of God’s country which many people from other states love to come to visit and eventually move here. I think before you publish a stupid article like this with poor pictures, you should probably visit each of these towns. LOVE WISCONSIN!

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

10. Superior

Superior, Wisconsin

Population: 26,676
Median Income: $41,030
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Poverty Rate: 20.3%
More on Superior: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Wisconsin is Superior.

The city of 26,676 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Badger State.

User comment that mentions Superior: Seems Superior was left out of the list.

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

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

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: Elm Grove
2nd Richest: Fox Point
3rd Richest: Mequon

For more Wisconsin reading , check out:

  • 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Wisconsin
  • 10 Worst Places To Live In Wisconsin
  • 10 Safest Places In Wisconsin
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Wisconsin

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Whitewater 38.2%
    2 Milwaukee 28.4%
    3 Antigo 22.0%
    4 Beloit 24.1%
    5 Racine 21.9%
    6 Stevens Point 24.8%
    7 Menomonie 26.1%
    8 Wisconsin Rapids 14.5%
    9 Rice Lake 17.1%
    10 Superior 20.3%
    11 Marinette 18.5%
    12 Wausau 18.2%
    13 La Crosse 25.6%
    14 Rhinelander 14.5%
    15 Ashland 14.5%
    16 Baraboo 14.3%
    17 Prairie Du Chien 16.4%
    18 Kenosha 19.3%
    19 Sparta 19.8%
    20 Platteville 33.0%
    21 Green Bay 18.3%
    22 Sheboygan 13.8%
    23 Chippewa Falls 20.2%
    24 Tomah 11.8%
    25 Cudahy 14.9%
    26 Delavan 13.8%
    27 Two Rivers 11.0%
    28 Fort Atkinson 16.8%
    29 Manitowoc 14.1%
    30 Oshkosh 19.5%
    31 Lake Geneva 16.4%
    32 Berlin 13.1%
    33 Janesville 14.7%
    34 Eau Claire 17.7%
    35 New London 15.5%
    36 Portage 16.6%
    37 Fond Du Lac 12.4%
    38 West Allis 14.5%
    39 South Milwaukee 13.9%
    40 Merrill 14.2%
    41 Watertown 11.3%
    42 Beaver Dam 11.6%
    43 Menasha 11.7%
    44 Menasha 11.7%
    45 Sturgeon Bay 11.8%
    46 St. Francis 10.8%
    47 Weston 17.3%
    48 Twin Lakes 10.8%
    49 Plover 11.6%
    50 Waupaca 8.6%
    51 Shawano 12.9%
    52 Richland Center 14.0%
    53 Elkhorn 7.6%
    54 Madison 18.6%
    55 Madison 18.6%
    56 Marshfield 11.2%
    57 Jefferson 9.8%
    58 Ashwaubenon 9.9%
    59 New Richmond 8.1%
    60 Monroe 14.9%
    61 Fitchburg 14.8%
    62 Greenfield 8.9%
    63 Burlington 10.5%
    64 Reedsburg 14.8%
    65 Plymouth 8.5%
    66 Milton 7.7%
    67 Edgerton 15.5%
    68 Altoona 8.4%
    69 Ripon 12.0%
    70 River Falls 19.6%
    71 Pleasant Prairie 8.5%
    72 Appleton 12.1%
    73 Kimberly 7.5%
    74 Greendale 9.0%
    75 Bellevue 10.8%
    76 Rothschild 7.8%
    77 Brown Deer 6.2%
    78 Shorewood 13.4%
    79 Waukesha 11.0%
    80 North Fond Du Lac 6.7%
    81 Waupun 8.8%
    82 Mayville 9.8%
    83 West Bend 8.2%
    84 Stoughton 8.5%
    85 Howard 7.7%
    86 Hartford 8.9%
    87 Sheboygan Falls 6.0%
    88 Jackson 7.3%
    89 Caledonia 4.8%
    90 De Pere 7.6%
    91 Monona 8.7%
    92 Neenah 10.6%
    93 Onalaska 6.9%
    94 Sun Prairie 9.5%
    95 Mount Pleasant 6.5%
    96 Holmen 5.0%
    97 Delafield 6.7%
    98 Middleton 7.5%
    99 Little Chute 7.6%
    100 Evansville 5.6%

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