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
  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.

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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.

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1. Whitewater

Whitewater, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 14,840
Median Income: $30,934
Unemployment Rate: 8.8%
Poverty Rate: 38.2%
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

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 598,672
Median Income: $36,801
Unemployment Rate: 10.3%
Poverty Rate: 28.4%
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.

3. Antigo

Antigo, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,930
Median Income: $35,700
Unemployment Rate: 8.9%
Poverty Rate: 22.0%
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.

4. Beloit

Beloit, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 36,812
Median Income: $37,779
Unemployment Rate: 12.0%
Poverty Rate: 24.1%
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

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 77,931
Median Income: $41,178
Unemployment Rate: 10.9%
Poverty Rate: 21.9%
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.

6. Stevens Point

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 26,714
Median Income: $41,944
Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
Poverty Rate: 24.8%
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

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 16,295
Median Income: $40,538
Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
Poverty Rate: 26.1%
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

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 17,987
Median Income: $35,775
Unemployment Rate: 7.6%
Poverty Rate: 14.5%
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

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,343
Median Income: $37,763
Unemployment Rate: 6.6%
Poverty Rate: 17.1%
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.

10. Superior

Superior, Wisconsin

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 26,676
Median Income: $41,030
Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
Poverty Rate: 20.3%
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.

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:

  • These Are The 10 Snobbiest Cities In Wisconsin
  • These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Wisconsin
  • These Are The 10 Safest Places In Wisconsin
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Wisconsin

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

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