Poorest Cities In Wisconsin For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin.

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 142 places in Wisconsin with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in Wisconsin for 2021:

  1. Whitewater
  2. Milwaukee
  3. Antigo
  4. Beloit
  5. Racine
  6. Ashland
  7. Wisconsin Rapids
  8. La Crosse
  9. Platteville
  10. Chippewa Falls

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 Wisconsin? According to the facts, Whitewater is the poorest place in Wisconsin for 2021.

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

If you're looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Wisconsin For 2021

1. Whitewater

Whitewater, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 14,722
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,176 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.3% (highest)
More on Whitewater:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 14,722 people averages the lowest median household income in Wisconsin 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. Milwaukee

Milwaukee, WI

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 594,548
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $41,838 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.4% (3rd highest)
More on Milwaukee:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Wisconsin is Milwaukee.

The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 5th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 5th highest in the Badger State.

3. Antigo

Antigo, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,780
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $39,863 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.8% (10th highest)
More on Antigo:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Antigo's median income ranks as the 3rd 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 18.78627968337731% 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.

4. Beloit

Beloit, WI

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 36,836
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $43,651 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.1% (4th highest)
More on Beloit:  Data | Photos

Beloit ranks as the fourth poorest place in Wisconsin.

The town ranks as having the 8th 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.

5. Racine

Racine, WI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 77,081
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $44,056 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.0% (8th highest)
More on Racine:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Wisconsin is Racine.

The city ranks as having the 9th 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 8th highest in Wisconsin.

Still not the best news for Racine.

6. Ashland

Ashland, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,892
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $38,222 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (2highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.2% (9th highest)
More on Ashland:  Data | Photos

Ashland ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Badger State.

It ranks as having the 9th highest incidence of poverty and the 2highest unemployment rate.

7. Wisconsin Rapids

Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 17,770
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $42,531 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.4% (18th highest)
More on Wisconsin Rapids:  Data | Photos

Wisconsin Rapids places as the seventh poorest city in Wisconsin.

The city of over 17,770 ranks as having the 18th 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. La Crosse

La Crosse, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 51,666
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $45,233 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (27th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.0% (5th highest)
More on La Crosse:  Data | Photos

La Crosse ranks as the eighth poorest city in Wisconsin.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 27th highest in the state.

9. Platteville

Platteville, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 12,264
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $46,690 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (32nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.6% (2nd highest)
More on Platteville:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 18th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Platteville ranks as having the 2nd most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Wisconsin.

10. Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 14,101
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Income: $46,909 (20th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 14.8% (25th highest)
More on Chippewa Falls:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 14,101 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Badger State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Wisconsin 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 142 places with more than 5,000 people in Wisconsin, we ranked each place from 1 to 142 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 2021". You can download the data here.

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

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: Pewaukee
    3rd Richest: Richfield

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Wisconsin

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Whitewater 14,722 37.3%
2 Milwaukee 594,548 25.4%
3 Antigo 7,780 18.8%
4 Beloit 36,836 23.1%
5 Racine 77,081 21.0%
6 Ashland 7,892 20.2%
7 Wisconsin Rapids 17,770 16.4%
8 La Crosse 51,666 23.0%
9 Platteville 12,264 30.6%
10 Chippewa Falls 14,101 14.8%
11 Stevens Point 26,229 21.5%
12 Portage 10,406 12.6%
13 Marinette 10,608 18.3%
14 Kenosha 99,688 16.0%
15 Shawano 8,974 16.0%
16 Menomonie 16,408 21.4%
17 Baraboo 12,138 14.0%
18 Wausau 38,735 15.2%
19 South Milwaukee 20,957 16.8%
20 Richland Center 5,019 18.7%
21 Berlin 5,383 15.6%
22 New London 6,879 12.5%
23 Green Bay 104,777 14.9%
24 Oshkosh 66,773 17.0%
25 Sheboygan 48,327 10.2%
26 Eau Claire 68,187 16.6%
27 Superior 26,223 14.1%
28 Merrill 9,108 12.7%
29 Beaver Dam 16,345 9.4%
30 Rice Lake 8,367 16.9%
31 Fond Du Lac 42,909 11.6%
32 Menasha 18,114 12.1%
33 Two Rivers 11,154 11.2%
34 Manitowoc 32,702 14.0%
35 Watertown 23,633 11.0%
36 Lake Geneva 7,894 8.2%
37 Janesville 64,245 11.5%
38 North Fond Du Lac 5,076 14.2%
39 Twin Lakes 6,107 12.6%
40 West Allis 60,025 11.9%
41 Tomah 9,383 8.8%
42 Delavan 8,303 10.2%
43 Edgerton 5,550 12.7%
44 Sparta 9,717 13.2%
45 Rhinelander 7,570 14.1%
46 Prairie Du Chien 5,635 12.3%
47 Appleton 74,139 10.8%
48 Madison 254,977 16.9%
49 Neenah 25,967 13.0%
50 Hartford 14,977 8.9%
51 Bellevue 15,701 9.4%
52 St. Francis 9,549 12.5%
53 Jefferson 7,991 7.1%
54 Sturgeon Bay 8,885 9.1%
55 Marshfield 18,222 9.9%
56 Ashwaubenon 17,149 8.5%
57 Cudahy 18,271 11.1%
58 Greenfield 37,099 8.5%
59 Fort Atkinson 12,443 13.0%
60 Sturtevant 6,606 8.4%
61 Waukesha 72,412 10.6%
62 River Falls 15,638 16.0%
63 Ripon 7,781 9.6%
64 Jackson 7,081 6.3%
65 Plymouth 8,590 7.0%
66 Elkhorn 9,925 8.4%
67 Brown Deer 11,965 10.3%
68 Waupun 11,276 8.1%
69 Reedsburg 9,508 13.3%
70 Fitchburg 29,450 10.6%
71 Little Chute 11,484 7.2%
72 Delafield 7,457 8.3%
73 Kimberly 6,770 7.6%
74 Shorewood 13,290 10.2%
75 Altoona 7,625 8.1%
76 Port Washington 11,761 6.0%
77 Pleasant Prairie 20,832 6.6%
78 Plover 12,803 8.9%
79 Mount Pleasant 26,928 7.3%
80 Monroe 10,625 7.6%
81 Holmen 9,854 2.9%
82 Waupaca 5,952 7.4%
83 Burlington 10,847 10.1%
84 Onalaska 18,662 6.7%
85 West Salem 5,005 7.8%
86 Rothschild 5,287 6.5%
87 Bristol 5,038 3.5%
88 West Bend 31,596 6.9%
89 Pewaukee 8,164 5.5%
90 Howard 19,658 7.3%
91 Grafton 11,646 6.4%
92 Caledonia 25,120 5.0%
93 Weston 15,110 8.0%
94 Hudson 13,795 8.9%
95 Oak Creek 36,066 5.3%
96 Milton 5,573 4.6%
97 Columbus 5,058 7.3%
98 De Pere 24,903 6.6%
99 Sheboygan Falls 7,893 6.7%
100 Allouez 13,882 6.0%

How Is The Area In ?

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3 thoughts on “Poorest Cities In Wisconsin For 2021

  1. I live near whitewater friends live in whitewater, there is no place that rents for 700 or less month, average house goes for 1,500 month

  2. I cannot believe that Eau Claire is 32 poorest cities in Wisconsin, I could understand because the City of Eau Claire is the 19 most dangerous city in the state.

  3. What this study does not clearly take into account is college students. I also live in WW and approximately 2/3 of the 14k population is college kids. The actually town is around 5k. That’s why >30% are considered “poverty”. I would assume this is the case for La Crosse and Platteville as well. Not sure how you could wean those out in a study though as they can be considered “residents”

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