Over half a century has passed since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty — with the stated goal of eradicating and preventing serious financial hardship in the United States. Though Johnson’s vision was never realized, the U.S. poverty rate fell from 22.2% in 1960 to 12.1% in 1969. Americans have not benefitted from such a dramatic improvement since.
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services sets the poverty line at an annual income of $24,600 for a family of four living in the continental U.S. Though improvements are not as meaningful as they were in the 1960s, the U.S. poverty rate has fallen in recent years — from 15.9% in 2012 to 14.7% in 2015, to 14.0% in 2016.
Serious financial hardship remains very common in certain parts of the country. More than 1 in every 5 Americans live below the poverty line in 39 U.S. metro areas. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed metro area level poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau to identify the cities with the highest poverty rates.