The City Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty in Every State

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Source: dougtone / Flickr

46. Virginia: Harrisonburg
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +10.3 ppts (0.0% to 10.3%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +2,444 people (0 to 2,444)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: -0.4% (Virginia: +0.6%)
> Unemployment: 1.7% (poor neighborhoods) 5.1% (all other)

One neighborhood in the Harrisonburg metro area crossed the extreme poverty threshold between 2010 and 2016. Today, some 10.3% of the metro area’s 23,600 poor residents live in that neighborhood, nearly twice the 5.6% concentrated poverty rate for Virginia as a whole.

As is often the case among the cities on this list, economic growth has been weak in Harrisonburg in recent years. The metro area’s average annual GDP growth rate of -0.4% between 2010 and 2016 is below both the state annual growth rate of 0.6% and the national rate of 2.0%.

Source: Thinkstock

47. Washington: Kennewick-Richland
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +0.9 ppts (8.4% to 9.3%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +752 people (2,952 to 3,704)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: -0.6% (Washington: +2.9%)
> Unemployment: 13.7% (poor neighborhoods) 6.4% (all other)

While the share of poor Americans living in extreme poverty neighborhoods — where at least 40% of residents also live below the poverty line — fell from 14.0% in 2010 to 11.6% in 2016 nationwide, the concentrated poverty rate in the Kennewick-Richland metro area rose from 8.4% to 9.3%.

Low-income areas tend to have less access to education and employment opportunities than high-income areas. In Kennewick’s extreme poverty neighborhood, just 8.0% of adults have a bachelor’s degree and 13.7% of the labor force are unemployed. By comparison, 25.9% of adults have a bachelor’s degree and 6.4% of the labor force is unemployed in the metro area’s remaining neighborhoods.

Source: Thinkstock

48. West Virginia: Morgantown
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +8.2 ppts (0.0% to 8.2%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +2,137 people (0 to 2,137)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +2.1% (West Virginia: +0.1%)
> Unemployment: 1.1% (poor neighborhoods) 6.3% (all other)

Since 2010, one neighborhood in Morgantown has crossed the 40% poverty rate threshold. Morgantown’s extreme poverty neighborhood is home to 8.2% of the city’s poor population, the second highest concentrated poverty rate of any metro area in West Virginia yet less than the 11.6% national figure.

While Morgantown’s poor residents are not as densely concentrated in poor neighborhoods as many of the other U.S. cities where extreme poverty is on the rise, it is still one of the poorest metro areas nationwide. Overall, some 20.5% of Morgantown residents live in poverty, more than the 15.1% national poverty rate and the vast majority of U.S. metro areas.

Source: Thinkstock

49. Wisconsin: Oshkosh-Neenah
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +13.1 ppts (0.0% to 13.1%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +2,559 people (0 to 2,559)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +1.5% (Wisconsin: +1.7%)
> Unemployment: 7.1% (poor neighborhoods) 4.3% (all other)

While in 2010 no neighborhoods in the Oshkosh-Neenah metro area met the criteria for extreme poverty, one census tract has crossed that threshold in the last several years. Oshkosh’s extreme poverty neighborhood is home to 13.1% of the city’s 20,000 poor residents, a higher concentrated poverty rate than both the state 12.3% rate and the national 11.6% rate.

Joblessness is a bigger problem in Oshkosh-Neenah’s poorest neighborhood than it is in the rest of the metro area. Some 7.1% of the labor force living in the area’s concentrated poverty neighborhood is unemployed, compared to 4.3% of the labor force living in the rest of the city.

Source: Thinkstock

50. Wyoming: no city with concentrated poverty increase

Wyoming is a relatively high-income state, and none of its census tracts meet the 40% poverty threshold required to be considered an extreme poverty neighborhood. Statewide, some 11.3% of Wyoming residents live at or below the poverty line, far less than the 15.1% national poverty rate and less than a majority of states.

Despite increasing over the last several years, poverty is less prevalent in Wyoming’s two metro areas than it is statewide. The share of residents living in poverty in the Cheyenne metro area rose from 9.6% in 2010 to 10.4% in 2016, and in the Casper area from 8.4% to 10.5%.