The City Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty in Every State

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21. Massachusetts: Springfield
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +9.9 ppts (23.8% to 33.6%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +11,781 people (22,014 to 33,795)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +1.2% (Massachusetts: +1.8%)
> Unemployment: 18.1% (poor neighborhoods) 7.3% (all other)

The number of neighborhoods in the Springfield metro area in which at least 40% of the population lives in poverty rose from 14 in 2010 to 19 in 2016. The share of the metro area’s 100,400 poor residents living in those neighborhoods rose from 23.8% to 33.6% over the same period, the largest increase of any metro area in Massachusetts. Springfield’s concentrated poverty rate is now more than three times greater than the state’s 10.9% concentrated poverty rate.

The concentration of poor residents in high poverty neighborhoods can hinder upward income mobility and reduce positive outcomes in education, employment, and homeownership. In Springfield’s extreme poverty neighborhoods, just 18.9% of heads of household own their homes, 14.0% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, and 18.1% of the labor force is unemployed. Outside of the city’s extreme poverty neighborhoods, 68.1% of heads of household own their homes, 32.3% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, and unemployment stands at 7.3%.

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22. Michigan: Jackson
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +12.5 ppts (20.8% to 33.3%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +3,595 people (4,740 to 8,335)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +1.4% (Michigan: +2.0%)
> Unemployment: 19.7% (poor neighborhoods) 7.6% (all other)

Of the 38 Census tracts in the Jackson, Michigan, metro area, seven have poverty rates of 40% and above, up from five in 2010. The number of poor Jackson metro area residents living in extremely poor neighborhoods nearly doubled from 4,740 in 2010 to 8,335 in 2016.

Poorer neighborhoods are typically home to less educated populations, and the poorest parts of Jackson are no exception. Just 12.3% of adults in the metro area’s poorest neighborhoods have a bachelor’s degree, and 79.9% have a high school diploma — compared to 21.4% and 90.7% of adults in Jackson’s remaining neighborhoods.

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23. Minnesota: St. Cloud
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +17.1 ppts (0.0% to 17.1%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +4,313 people (0 to 4,313)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +2.5% (Minnesota: +2.0%)
> Unemployment: 6.7% (poor neighborhoods) 4.5% (all other)

While in 2010 St. Cloud had no extreme poverty tracts, one neighborhood crossed that threshold over the past several years. The city’s extreme poverty neighborhood is home to 17.1% of the city’s poor population — the highest rate of concentrated poverty in Minnesota and more than twice the state’s concentrated poverty rate of 8.3%.

While individuals in low-income areas tend to have less educational attainment than those in high-income areas, the presence of St. Cloud State University can help explain the smaller achievement gap between the two demographics in the metro area. Some 24.4% of adults in St. Cloud’s extreme poverty neighborhoods have a bachelor’s degree, nearly in line with the 25.1% college attainment rate outside of the city’s extreme poverty neighborhoods.

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24. Mississippi: Jackson
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +6.0 ppts (25.6% to 31.6%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +8,948 people (25,829 to 34,777)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +1.0% (Mississippi: +0.4%)
> Unemployment: 17.7% (poor neighborhoods) 7.5% (all other)

Both the poverty rate and concentrated poverty rate in Jackson, Mississippi, increased in recent years. Nearly 32% of the 110,000 Jackson residents who below the poverty line live in neighborhoods in which over 40% of the population is poor. In 2010, 25.6% of the metro area’s 101,000 residents living below the poverty line lived in extremely poor neighborhoods. Over that same period, economic growth was relatively slow in Jackson. Average annual GDP growth in the metro area was just 1% between 2010 and 2016, half the comparable national growth rate.

As is often the case in poor neighborhoods nationwide, joblessness is a considerable problem in parts of Jackson. Across the metro area’s 24 census tracts with high concentrations of poverty, 17.7% of the workforce are unemployed.

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25. Missouri: Cape Girardeau
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +14.5 ppts (13.1% to 27.6%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +3,241 people (1,830 to 5,071)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +0.4% (Missouri: +0.5%)
> Unemployment: 16.5% (poor neighborhoods) 4.7% (all other)

The share of Cape Girardeau’s poor residents living in extreme poverty neighborhoods — in which at least 40% of residents are also poor — more than doubled over the last several years, from 13.1% in 2010 to 27.6% in 2016. The increase in concentrated poverty was particularly stark for the metro area’s black residents. The share of poor black residents living in extreme poverty neighborhoods rose from 45.3% in 2010 to 78.1% in 2016, the highest black concentrated poverty rate of any U.S. city and nearly eight times the 9.8% national figure.