Ten Cities Where Poverty Is Soaring
10. Seaside, Calif.
> Poverty increase: 11.4 ppt (tied for 9th)
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 20.5%
> Median household income: $51,659
> Population: 33,454
On California’s Central Coast, the city of Seaside has been under financial pressure lately due in part to the lingering effects of the recession. Between the three years ending in 2009 and the three years ending in 2012, the city’s median income declined by more than $12,000 a year to $51,659, slightly lower than the national median income. The national decline in median income during that time was $3,180. During last year’s budget preparation process, Seaside was in a state of crisis, facing a projected budget deficit of $2.4 million. To balance its budget, the city had to make substantial cuts. California’s recent elimination of redevelopment agencies last year, which helped fund low-income housing, has also strained the city’s recovery, according Seaside’s 2013-2014 preliminary budget.
9. Bonita Springs, Florida
> Poverty increase: 11.4 ppts (tied for 9th)
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 21.8%
> Median household income: $48,489
> Population: 45,146
Bonita Springs, located in Southwestern Florida, was one of the cities hardest-hit by the housing bubble. Average home prices during 2010-2012 declined by 22% compared to average prices during the previous three-year period. Nationwide, home prices declined by just 9% during that time period. Because of the residential boom in the area prior to the crash, nearly 15% of the area’s employment was in construction between 2007 and 2009. Over the following three years, construction employment averaged just 8.6% of total employment.
8. Inkster, Mich.
> Poverty increase: 11.5 ppt
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 38.6%
> Median household income: $26,181
> Population: 25,120
Even before the recession, unemployment was high in Inkster, Michigan, a city located just 20 miles west of Detroit. In 2007, the rate was 9.8%, more than double the national figure that year. When the recession hit, things got even worse for the city, with the unemployment rate nearly doubling to a high of 18.1% by 2009. While the unemployment rate fell to 13.2% last year, it was still among the highest in the U.S. Like neighboring Detroit, Inkster’s housing market took a beating during the home price collapse. Between 2007 and 2009, 11.8% of homes on average were worth less than $50,000. Over the following three years, an average of 43.3% of homes were worth less than $50,000, the fifth-highest proportion in the country among cities with a population of 25,000 or more. During these time periods, home prices fell by 40%, from $90,600 to $54,200. Not only was the decline in home prices much steeper than the 9% decline nationwide, but also the median value of a home in Inkster was less than a third of the national median home value. Earlier this year, the county permanently dissolved the Inkster school district, which had a $15 million budget deficit.
7. Newburgh, N.Y.
> Poverty increase: 11.8 ppt
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 34.0%
> Median household income: $32,263
> Population: 28,791
During the 2007-2009 period, 9.1% of households in Newburgh, New York, earned less than $10,000 per year. That rate rose even more during the recession, with 16.9% of homes in the 2010-2012 period earning so little. This was the 14th-highest rate in the country for homes earning less than $10,000 a year. During that same time, Newburgh homes lost 22% of their value, compared to the 9% decline nationwide. The unemployment rate also jumped from 4.2% in 2007 to 8.5% in 2012. While that was only slightly above the U.S. rate that year, the city is continuing to shed jobs. Between October 2012 and October 2013, Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown lost 4,400 jobs, more than any U.S. metro area except for the greater Cleveland area.
6. North Chicago, Ill.
> Poverty increase: 12.3 ppt
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 27.3%
> Median household income: $40,176
> Population: 31,359
North Chicago’s 2014 budget, which is currently under review, has an estimated budget shortfall of about $3 million. The city suffered from already high unemployment before the recession, which then skyrocketed during the downturn. The unemployment rate rose from 10.4% in 2007 to 17.5% in 2010. As of 2012, it was a still very high 15.4%, compared to a national rate of 8.1%. The North Chicago school district is flirting with bankruptcy. After working as a consultant for the Illinois State Board of Education, former CEO of the Chicago public school system Paul Vallas has recommended nearly half of the of the district’s schools permanently to avoid an even greater crisis.