America’s Poorest Cities

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The Poorest Cities in America

10. Muncie, Ind.
> Median household income: $36,402
> Population: 117,484
> Unemployment rate: 8.7% (66th highest)
> Poverty rate: 22.6% (29th highest)

The median household income in Muncie was just $36,402 last year, the 10th lowest nationwide. Like in a majority of the country’s poorest cities, poverty in Muncie was quite high. More than 22% of area residents lived below the poverty line last year, versus less than 16% of all Americans. Poor incomes in the area are likely due, in part, to Muncie’s high unemployment rate, which was 8.7% last year, among the higher unemployment rates nationwide. While residents were quite poor, just 12.4% of the civilian population didn’t have health insurance last year, an exceptionally good rate compared with other poor cities. By contrast, 14.5% of all Americans didn’t have health insurance in 2013.

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9. Las Cruces, N.M.
> Median household income: $36,343
> Population: 213,460
> Unemployment rate: 7.5% (142nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 27.8% (8th highest)

Nearly 28% of Las Cruces adult residents had completed at least a bachelor’s degree as of last year, only slightly lower than the national rate and considerably better than other poor cities. Additionally, the area’s unemployment rate was in line with the national rate, at 7.4%. Still, Las Cruces residents still struggled with low incomes and poverty. One reason maybe that less than 79% of adults had at least a high school diploma last year, one of the worst rates nationwide. A typical household earned just $36,343 in 2013, and nearly 28% of residents lived below the poverty line, compared with the national poverty rate of 15.8%.

8. Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Ala.
> Median household income: $36,205
> Population: 116,736
> Unemployment rate: 7.3% (158th highest)
> Poverty rate: 21.8% (37th highest)

Fourteen percent of Anniston area households reported an income of less than $10,000 in 2013, well-above the nationwide percentage of 7.6% and the seventh worst rate in the country. One issue likely placing a low ceiling on incomes is the absence of a highly educated workforce. Just 15% of residents 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, versus nearly 30% of adults nationwide. Despite the low incomes, just 14.5% of the population in the Anniston metro area lacked health insurance last year, in line with the share of all Americans who were uninsured. However, relatively few residents in Anniston were insured through private insurance or employer-sponsored plans. Instead, they were more likely than most Americans to rely on Medicare or need-based coverage such as Medicaid.