Cities Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty

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10. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY
> Concentrated poverty rate chg. 2009-2015: 8.8 ppts
> Concentrated poverty chg. 2009-2015: +16,680
> Change in no. of poor neighborhoods 2009-2015: +15
> Poverty rate: 14.8%

Buffalo, New York’s poverty rate climbed by 1.2 percentage points between 2009 and 2015, slower than the comparable 2.2 percentage point national increase. Despite this, segregation along income lines in the Buffalo metro area has worsened far more rapidly. The share of residents living on poverty level income in extremely poor neighborhoods climbed from 15.7% in 2009 to 24.5% in 2015.

Racial and income segregation often move together. Well over half of the metro area’s 40,000 low-income residents who live in extremely poor communities are black.

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9. Tucson, AZ
> Concentrated poverty rate chg. 2009-2015: 9.4 ppts
> Concentrated poverty chg. 2009-2015: +22,523
> Change in no. of poor neighborhoods 2009-2015: +14
> Poverty rate: 19.3%

Nearly one in five Tucson metro area residents live in poverty, one of the higher poverty rates among metro areas in the country. Further, 23.7% of the area’s poor residents live in extremely poor neighborhoods, also far higher than the 14.1% comparable national share.

Both Tucson’s poverty rate and concentrated poverty rate have increased far faster than the comparable national rates in recent years. The metro area’s poverty rate increase by 3.6 percentage points between 2009 and 2015 compared to the 2.2 percentage point national increase over the same time period. Meanwhile, concentrated poverty in the metro area shot up by 9.4 percentage points, well above the 2.5 percentage point national increase.

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8. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
> Concentrated poverty rate chg. 2009-2015: 9.8 ppts
> Concentrated poverty chg. 2009-2015: +90,215
> Change in no. of poor neighborhoods 2009-2015: +105
> Poverty rate: 16.8%

In 2009, 147,478 of Detroit’s 676,303 poor people lived in neighborhoods where at least 40% of residents were poor. By 2015, the number of poor people in Detroit rose to 713,256, and the number of those living in extremely poor neighborhoods rose to 237,693. Only New York City, a city with over 10 times the population, has more poor people living in extremely poor neighborhoods. While there are disadvantages of living in poverty in any neighborhood, Detroit’s poor people living in concentrated poverty face even more obstacles to financial security, education, safety, and upward socioeconomic mobility.

As is the case nationwide, concentrated poverty is a much greater issue for racial minorities. While 15.2% of Detroit’s poor white residents live in such neighborhoods, 40.4% of poor Hispanic residents, and 50.3% of poor black residents do.

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7. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
> Concentrated poverty rate chg. 2009-2015: 9.9 ppts
> Concentrated poverty chg. 2009-2015: +9,906
> Change in no. of poor neighborhoods 2009-2015: +4
> Poverty rate: 12.9%

North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton is not an especially poor metro area. Some 12.9% of area residents live on poverty level income, well below the 14.6% national rate. However, the Gulf Coast metro area has become increasingly segregated by income since the end of the recession. Of metro area residents living in poverty, 12.6% live in extremely poor neighborhoods, up considerably from only 2.7% in 2009. This increase has mostly affected the area’s Hispanic residents. Over 25% of the area’s poor hispanic population lives in extremely poor neighborhoods are Hispanic, up from 3.9% in 2009.

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6. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA
> Concentrated poverty rate chg. 2009-2015: 10.1 ppts
> Concentrated poverty chg. 2009-2015: +10,820
> Change in no. of poor neighborhoods 2009-2015: +16
> Poverty rate: 16.8%

Conditions in extremely poor, distressed neighborhoods are generally difficult for all residents, regardless of their poverty status. Often, public spaces are more run-down, schools receive less funding, and commerce is less developed, among many other issues. For poor people living in extremely poor neighborhoods, these disadvantages are compounded by the difficulties associated with living on a poverty wage. In Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, more than 30% of individuals in poverty live in neighborhoods where poverty rates are 40% or higher — one of the highest levels among metro areas.

As is generally the case in poverty-stricken metro areas, racial segregation is a key aspect of the problem. Of poor, black residents, 60.4% live in extremely poor neighborhoods, versus 30.4% of poor white residents.