Cities Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty

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5. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: 7.2 ppts (+66,826 people)
> Concentrated poverty rate: 31.6%
> 2010-2016 increase in number of poor neighborhoods: +60 (+48%)
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 23.2%

Detroit has long been the poster child for economic decline in post-industrial America. In recent years, the metro area’s economic conditions have grown only more dire. The share of Detroit residents living in poverty climbed from 14.4% in 2010 to 16.2% in 2016. Over the same period, the share of those poor residents living in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty climbed from 24.4% to 31.6%. At the same time, the number of extremely poor neighborhood in the Detroit metro area rose from 126 in 2010 to 186 in 2016.

Extremely poor neighborhoods often have a higher than typical incidence of violent crime, and the highly concentrated pockets of poverty in Detroit likely contribute disproportionately to the metro area’s high violent crime rate. There were 556 violent crimes for every 100,000 metro area residents in 2016, well above the U.S. violent crime rate of 386 per 100,000.

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4. Albuquerque, NM
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: 7.7 ppts (+13,902 people)
> Concentrated poverty rate: 10.7%
> 2010-2016 increase in number of poor neighborhoods: +7 (+350%)
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 15.7%

The share of poor Albuquerque residents living in high poverty neighborhoods climbed from just 2.9% in 2010 to 10.7% in 2016, one of the largest percentage point increases of any U.S. metro area. Despite the increase, concentrated poverty is less common in New Mexico’s largest metro area than it is across the United States, where 12.9% of poor Americans live in extremely poor neighborhoods. Much like in other metro areas on this list, Albuquerque’s hispanic population was disproportionately affected by concentrated poverty. Over the last six years, the concentrated poverty rate among the metro area’s Hispanic population climbed from 2.8% to 10.3%.

Stronger economic growth would likely have halted or slowed the spread of concentrated poverty in the Albuquerque metro area. In the last six years, Albuquerque’s average annual economic growth of 0.3% was among the lowest of any U.S. metro area and a fraction of the overall 2.0% national average growth.

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3. Springfield, MA
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: 11.8 ppts (+11,781 people)
> Concentrated poverty rate: 33.6%
> 2010-2016 increase in number of poor neighborhoods: +5 (+36%)
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 17.9%

Along with Worcester, Massachusetts, Springfield is one of only two New England metro areas to rank among those with the fastest growing concentrated poverty rates. In Springfield, concentrated poverty climbed from 21.9% to 33.6% between 2010 and 2016. Currently, only three other metro areas nationwide have a higher concentrated poverty rate than Springfield, and only two had a faster increase in concentrated poverty in the last six years.

The likelihood of living in an extremely poor neighborhood in Springfield appears to be strongly dependent on race. For example, just 12.5% of the metro area’s poor white population live in a high poverty neighborhood. Meanwhile, 52.9% of poor Hispanics and 41.7% of poor black residents live in extremely poor neighborhoods.

Source: Gemini2525 / Wikimedia Commons

2. Fresno, CA
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: 12.8 ppts (+48,774 people)
> Concentrated poverty rate: 42.2%
> 2010-2016 increase in number of poor neighborhoods: +19 (+66%)
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 17.7%

The share of Fresno’s extremely poor residents living in high poverty neighborhoods increased by 12.8 percentage points since 2010, the second largest increase of any metro area. As a result, the metro area’s 42.2% concentrated poverty rate is the highest of any metro area in the country. High poverty areas are at increased risk of a high incidence of crime, and Fresno’s high concentrated poverty rate may largely explain the city’s high violent crime rate. There were 613 violent crimes for every 100,000 metro area residents in 2016, well above the U.S. violent crime rate of 384 per 100,000.

The disparity in educational attainment between Fresno’s extremely poor neighborhoods and the rest of the metro area is especially stark. Just 6.7% of adults in Fresno’s high poverty neighborhoods have a bachelor’s degree compared to 23.3% of adults living in the remaining neighborhoods.

Source: Robert Hale / Flickr

1. Bakersfield, CA
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: 16.4 ppts (+37,388 people)
> Concentrated poverty rate: 32.5%
> 2010-2016 increase in number of poor neighborhoods: +17 (+155%)
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 18.3%

Bakersfield is one of three California metro areas with the largest increases in concentrated poverty since 2010. In the last six years, the share of the metro area’s poor population living in high poverty neighborhoods more than doubled from 16.1% to 32.5%, the largest increase of any U.S. metro area. Over the same period, the share of Bakersfield residents living below the poverty line climbed from 20.6% to 23.1%.

Stratification between the metro area’s poor neighborhoods and the rest of the city is underscored by disparities in educational attainment and employment opportunities. Just 4.2% of adults in Bakersfield’s extremely poor neighborhoods have a bachelor’s degree, well below the 18.0% share of adults in the city’s more affluent neighborhoods. Additionally, 18.3% of the workforce living in the metro area’s extremely poor neighborhoods are out of a job, well above the 10.9% unemployment rate in the city’s other neighborhoods.