Special Report

America's Richest and Poorest Cities

5. Goldsboro, NC
> Median household income:
$35,966
> Median home value: $105,700
> Unemployment rate: 6.7%
> Poverty rate: 25.5%

Goldsboro is a poor town in one of the poorest states in the country. The typical Goldsboro household makes just $35,966 a year, nearly $18,000 less than the typical American household. Almost one in 10 Goldsboro households makes less than $10,000 a year — well below the $11,770 federal poverty threshold for one adult, and one of the highest shares nationwide. The share of residents in high-paying jobs contributes to the wealth of a metro area. Those who work in professional, scientific, and management positions tend to have higher incomes than those who work in lower-paying fields. Only 4.9% of Goldsboro’s workforce is employed in such a high-paying sector compared to 11.1% of the workforce nationally. Agriculture is a key component of Goldsboro’s economy. The city is home to Goldsboro Milling Company, the 10th largest producer of swine in the country. Despite this, about 26% of Goldsboro residents live in poverty, significantly more than the national poverty rate of 15.5%.

4. Homosassa Springs, FL
> Median household income:
$35,671
> Median home value: $116,300
> Unemployment rate: 7.6%
> Poverty rate: 21.2%

Only three U.S. metro areas have a lower median household income than Homosassa Springs. The typical household in the area makes $35,671 a year, about $18,000 less than the typical American household. An area’s wealth is often tied to the health of its job market, and at 7.6%, the area’s unemployment rate is 2.7 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate. High unemployment and low incomes exacerbate poverty in metropolitan areas. More than 20% of the metro area’s residents live in poverty, significantly higher than the national poverty rate of 15.5%.

3. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> Median household income:
$34,801
> Median home value: $79,400
> Unemployment rate: 7.9%
> Poverty rate: 34.0%

In the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area, located on the U.S.-Mexico border, the typical household makes just $34,801 a year, almost $19,000 less than the typical American household. While fewer than 1.3% of the area’s households earn $200,000 or more in a year, 14.3% of households earn less than $10,000 a year. According to a report by Brookings, –a think tank that conducts research on metropolitan policy — an influx of low-income immigrants from Mexico have moved to the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission suburbs in recent years, increasing the area’s poverty rate. About 34% of area residents live in poverty, the second highest poverty rate in the country. Low incomes may also be the result of a poorly educated workforce. Just 62.2% of McAllen adults have at least a high school diploma, 24.7 percentage points lower than the national figure. About 31% of McAllen-Edinburg-Mission residents rely on food stamps, the second highest share of any metro area in the country.

2. Pine Bluff, AR
> Median household income:
$33,838
> Median home value: $80,200
> Unemployment rate: 7.5%
> Poverty rate: 26.2%

Pine Bluff is the poorest metro area in one of the poorest states in the country. The typical Pine Bluff household makes just $33,838 a year, almost $20,000 less than the typical American household. The federal poverty threshold for one adult is $11,770 a year, and 12.0% of Pine Bluff households earn less than $10,000 a year –one of the highest such shares in the country. One-third of area homes are valued at less than $50,000, the largest such share in the country. Low-income areas often have a less educated workforce. Just 14.8% of Pine Bluff adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, significantly lower than the 30.1% of adults who do nationwide. About 26% of Pine Bluff residents live in poverty, significantly higher than the national poverty rate of 15.5%.

1. Brownsville-Harlingen, TX
> Median household income:
$32,093
> Median home value: $76,200
> Unemployment rate: 6.8%
> Poverty rate: 35.2%

The typical Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas household earns just $32,093 a year, or $21,564 less than the typical American household. The city is by several measures the poorest in the country. More than 35% of area residents live in poverty, the highest poverty rate in the country. Low incomes in the area may be the result of a poorly educated workforce. Just 64.6% of Brownsville area adults have at least a high school diploma, 22.3 percentage points fewer than the national figure. About 29% of area households rely on food stamps, the third highest share of any metro area in the country.

The area is known locally for its colonias — communities the government formed in the 1950s on worthless agricultural land. There are roughly 2,300 of these neighborhoods in Texas, mostly located along the Mexican border.