Ten Cities Where Poverty Is Soaring

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5. Salisbury, N.C.
> Poverty increase: 12.4 ppt
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 28.4%
> Median household income: $33,083
> Population: 33,596

During the three-year period ending in 2009, Salisbury’s poverty rate of 16% was about 3% higher than the national rate. In the following three-year period between 2010 and 2012, the city’s poverty rate was approaching 30%. Salisbury has traditionally relied heavily on the manufacturing sector, particularly textiles and fabrics. In recent decades, however, manufacturing activity has declined significantly and continues to do so. Between 2010 and 2012, manufacturing jobs in Salisbury — as a percent of the workforce — shrank from 15.5% to 8.3%.

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4. College Park, Md.
> Poverty increase: 13.0 ppt
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 32.0%
> Median household income: $53,913
> Population: 30,921

Five years ago, households in College Park were among the wealthier in the U.S. By the end of last year, however, earnings in just a handful of cities declined more than they did in College Park. The typical household in College Park city earned $53,913 on average between 2010 and 2012, $17,387 less than a typical household made between 2007 and 2009. In every year between 2007 and 2012, unemployment in College Park city was below the national rate. As of August of this year, however, the unemployment rate in the region was 7.8%, more than the U.S. rate of 7.3%.

3. Goshen, Ind.
> Poverty increase: 13.3 ppt
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 27.0%
> Median household income: $38,155
> Population: 31,989

Between 2007 and 2012, unemployment in Goshen, Indiana, doubled from 4.5% to 9%. Extreme poverty in the area also shot up considerably. During the 2007-2009 period, 4.5% of households earned less than $10,000 per year. This was less than the nationwide proportion of 5.7% of households. By the 2010-2012 period, the figure increased to 13.5% of homes, compared to 7.5% nationally. According to Joe Frank at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the economy of Goshen relies very heavily on manufacturing. “When the worst of the recent recession hit, Elkhart County was one of the most affected counties in the US due to this reliance.” In the 2010-2012 period, 33.7% of the area’s workforce was employed in the manufacturing sector, the third-highest proportion in the country.

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2. Cookeville, Tenn.
> Poverty increase: 13.4 ppt
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 35.2%
> Median household income: $28,212
> Population: 30,755

Cookeville, Tennessee’s average poverty rate during the 2007-2009 period was 21.8%, significantly higher than the U.S. rate of 13.6% at that time. Between 2010 and 2012, the poverty rate jumped to 35.2%, or nearly 20 percentage points above the national rate. During that period, the proportion of homes earning extremely little — with incomes of less than $10,000 — increased from 4.3% to 16%, the 19th-highest proportion among cities with populations of 25,000 or more. Like many of the cities with rising poverty, construction employment declined significantly, from 9.8% between 2007 and 2009 to 5.6% over the three-year period ending in 2012.

1. Eastpointe, Mich.
> Poverty increase: 14.9 ppt
> 2010-2012 Poverty rate: 27.1%
> Median household income: $36,706
> Population: 32,412

In recent years, property values in Eastpointe have plummeted. Between the three-year period ending in 2009 and the three-year period ending in 2012, the median home value declined by nearly 50%. Such dramatic losses in value are often linked to a shrinking population and a difficult job market. This is the case in Eastpointe as well. According to the Detroit News, Eastpointe’s population has fallen, its budget has shrunk by millions, and state funding declined by $700,000 since 2009. In addition to cost-cutting measures such as eliminating full-time employees and closing city offices on Fridays, city residents will be asked to pay more property taxes next year to balance the budget. This may be difficult for Eastpointe residents, whose median household income of $36,706 a year between 2010 and 2012 was considerably lower than the average national income.