Poorest Cities In Wisconsin For 2020


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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the poorest places in Wisconsin.

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

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 2020.

Rich people more 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.

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 2020

Whitewater, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 14,766
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $34,563 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 39.0% (1st 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 14,766 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.

Milwaukee, WI

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 596,886
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $40,036 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.6% (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 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 4th highest in the Badger State.

Antigo, WI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,799
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $37,075 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.0% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.7% (9th highest)
More on Antigo:  Data | Photos

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 19.69676994067238% 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, WI

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 36,813
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $42,169 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.4% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.1% (4th highest)
More on Beloit:  Data | Photos

Beloit ranks as the fourth poorest place in Wisconsin.

The town ranks as having the 9th 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.

Racine, WI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 77,576
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $42,767 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.4% (8th highest)
More on Racine:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Wisconsin is Racine.

The city ranks as having the 11th 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.

Ashland, WI

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,963
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 5)
Median Income: $40,433 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.5% (23rd highest)
More on Ashland:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 23rd highest incidence of poverty and the 12th highest unemployment rate.

Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 17,842
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $40,501 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.5% (22nd highest)
More on Wisconsin Rapids:  Data | Photos

Wisconsin Rapids places as the seventh poorest city in Wisconsin.

The city of over 17,842 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.

La Crosse, WI

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 51,866
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $43,516 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (22nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.4% (6th 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 22nd highest in the state.

Chippewa Falls, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 14,017
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 8)
Median Income: $44,418 (21st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (17th highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.8% (14th highest)
More on Chippewa Falls:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 21st lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Chippewa Falls ranks as having the 14th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Wisconsin.

Platteville, WI

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 12,301
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 6)
Median Income: $43,495 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (35th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.4% (2nd highest)
More on Platteville:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 12,301 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 2020

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 2014-2018 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 141 places with more than 5,000 people in Wisconsin, we ranked each place from 1 to 141 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 2020". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Wisconsin For 2020

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: Elm Grove
    3rd Richest: Hartland

For more Wisconsin reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Wisconsin

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Whitewater 14,766 39.0%
2 Milwaukee 596,886 26.6%
3 Antigo 7,799 19.7%
4 Beloit 36,813 24.1%
5 Racine 77,576 20.4%
6 Ashland 7,963 15.5%
7 Wisconsin Rapids 17,842 15.5%
8 La Crosse 51,866 23.4%
9 Chippewa Falls 14,017 17.8%
10 Platteville 12,301 31.4%
11 Portage 10,361 14.4%
12 Wausau 38,801 15.7%
13 Baraboo 12,093 14.8%
14 Marinette 10,678 18.1%
15 Menomonie 16,312 23.7%
16 Stevens Point 26,402 21.6%
17 South Milwaukee 21,089 17.4%
18 Kenosha 99,810 17.7%
19 St. Francis 9,509 12.7%
20 Fond Du Lac 42,858 12.6%
21 Oshkosh 66,610 18.2%
22 Two Rivers 11,219 11.6%
23 Green Bay 104,818 16.0%
24 Sheboygan 48,531 11.2%
25 Lake Geneva 7,815 12.2%
26 Delavan 8,338 11.3%
27 Prairie Du Chien 5,695 15.1%
28 Beaver Dam 16,366 11.3%
29 New London 6,772 11.3%
30 Sparta 9,656 17.2%
31 Richland Center 5,050 17.0%
32 Eau Claire 68,086 17.2%
33 Rice Lake 8,324 18.4%
34 West Allis 60,250 12.4%
35 Tomah 9,349 10.9%
36 Superior 26,346 15.0%
37 Janesville 64,128 12.7%
38 Fort Atkinson 12,429 13.9%
39 Manitowoc 32,798 15.0%
40 Menasha 18,075 11.7%
41 Watertown 23,677 10.7%
42 Twin Lakes 6,070 11.6%
43 Cudahy 18,349 13.3%
44 Sturgeon Bay 8,907 10.8%
45 Berlin 5,428 14.9%
46 Ripon 7,777 12.9%
47 Merrill 9,178 12.4%
48 Edgerton 5,522 12.5%
49 Jefferson 7,964 8.9%
50 Madison 252,086 17.9%
51 Brown Deer 12,039 10.1%
52 Rhinelander 7,528 12.9%
53 Appleton 74,234 11.4%
54 Shawano 9,009 13.9%
55 Greenfield 37,083 9.1%
56 Ashwaubenon 17,181 7.5%
57 Sturtevant 6,611 8.9%
58 North Fond Du Lac 5,066 11.9%
59 Bellevue 15,515 9.1%
60 Sheboygan Falls 7,878 6.1%
61 Marshfield 18,305 10.7%
62 Neenah 25,886 11.8%
63 Waupaca 5,950 7.1%
64 Kimberly 6,744 7.4%
65 Reedsburg 9,484 12.6%
66 Fitchburg 28,722 11.2%
67 Shorewood 13,344 11.2%
68 Monroe 10,636 9.7%
69 Burlington 10,758 8.4%
70 Plymouth 8,540 6.1%
71 Howard 19,396 8.3%
72 Waupun 11,296 9.7%
73 River Falls 15,467 15.3%
74 West Bend 31,649 7.2%
75 Waukesha 72,382 10.7%
76 Little Chute 11,225 8.8%
77 Pleasant Prairie 20,722 6.6%
78 Rothschild 5,281 5.9%
79 Altoona 7,499 9.0%
80 Cottage Grove 6,904 7.8%
81 Plover 12,686 10.6%
82 Port Washington 11,695 5.1%
83 Elkhorn 9,907 8.6%
84 Onalaska 18,546 6.6%
85 Milton 5,577 5.9%
86 Hartford 14,761 8.0%
87 Caledonia 24,875 5.5%
88 Grafton 11,627 6.2%
89 Holmen 9,909 2.9%
90 Delafield 7,390 6.0%
91 De Pere 24,836 7.0%
92 Oak Creek 35,843 5.4%
93 Weston 15,093 9.6%
94 Jackson 7,020 6.1%
95 Mount Pleasant 26,738 6.8%
96 Columbus 5,022 8.7%
97 Monona 8,068 7.0%
98 Sun Prairie 32,757 8.8%
99 New Richmond 8,890 4.9%
100 Greendale 14,245 4.9%

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One thought on “Poorest Cities In Wisconsin, 2020

  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

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