The City Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty in Every State

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Source: Montanabw / Wikimedia Commons

26. Montana: Great Falls
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +10.7 ppts (0.0% to 10.7%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +1,254 people (0 to 1,254)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +0.9% (Montana: +1.8%)
> Unemployment: 5.1% (poor neighborhoods) 5.0% (all other)

The number of Great Falls residents living in poverty climbed from about 10,600 to nearly 11,700 between 2010 and 2016. The increase was not spread evenly across the city, however. There were no neighborhoods with a 40% or greater concentration of poverty in Great Falls in 2010. But as of 2016, 1,254 of poor metro area residents lived in a region with highly concentrated poverty.

More poverty and higher concentrations of it are likely due in part to a sluggish economy. Great Falls’ average annual GDP growth rate of 0.9% since 2010 is below both the state 1.8% rate and the national 2.0% average economic growth rate.

Source: Thinkstock

27. Nebraska: Omaha-Council Bluffs
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +5.5 ppts (4.9% to 10.4%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +6,429 people (4,444 to 10,873)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +2.1% (Nebraska: +2.3%)
> Unemployment: 14.6% (poor neighborhoods) 4.3% (all other)

As recently as 2010, fewer than 5% of Omaha-Council Bluffs’ poorest residents lived in extremely poor communities. But as of 2016, over 10% do. A lack of available jobs likely prevents some of those living in poor neighborhoods from pulling themselves out of poverty. The jobless rate across the nine neighborhoods with a high concentration of poverty is just shy of 15% — more than triple the 4.3% unemployment rate in the rest of the city.

Despite reporting the greatest uptick in concentrated poverty since 2010, Omaha has the lowest poverty rate of Nebraska’s three metro areas. Some 11.8% of Omaha-Council Bluffs residents live below the poverty line compared to Grand Island’s 13.4% poverty and Lincoln’s 14.0% rate.

Source: Thinkstock

28. Nevada: Reno
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +6.2 ppts (7.6% to 13.8%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +5,088 people (3,899 to 8,987)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +2.7% (Nevada: +1.2%)
> Unemployment: 16.0% (poor neighborhoods) 7.6% (all other)

The share of the Reno metro area’s poor population living in extreme poverty neighborhoods — in which at least 40% of the population is also poor — rose from 7.6% in 2010 to 13.8% in 2016, the largest increase of any city in Nevada. Over the same period, the metro area’s poverty rate climbed from 12.5% to 14.9%.

The increase in concentrated poverty affected the area’s black community the most. The share of Reno’s poor black residents living in extreme poverty neighborhoods nearly tripled from 7.1% in 2010 to 21.0% in 2016.

Source: Thinkstock

29. New Hampshire: no city with concentrated poverty increase

Manchester-Nashua is the only major metropolitan area in New Hampshire. Currently, none of the metro area’s poor residents live in extreme poverty, down from 4.2% in 2010. Strong economic growth may partially explain the decline of extreme poverty in the metro area. The Manchester-Nashua metro area’s economy grew at an average rate of 2.3% per year from 2010 to 2016, compared to a 2.0% national growth rate and a 1.4% statewide rate over that time.

Across New Hampshire, just 7.3% of the population lives below the poverty line, the lowest poverty rate of any state in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

30. New Jersey: Trenton
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +10.7 ppts (7.5% to 18.2%)
> 2010-2016 increase in concentrated poverty: +4,556 people (2,669 to 7,225)
> 2010-2016 avg. annual GDP growth: +1.5% (New Jersey: +0.8%)
> Unemployment: 21.3% (poor neighborhoods) 8.1% (all other)

While nationwide the share of Americans living in extreme poverty neighborhoods fell from 14.0% in 2010 to 11.6% in 2016, in Trenton the concentrated poverty rate more than doubled from 7.5% to 18.2%. The increase was the largest of any metro area in New Jersey, and pushed Trenton’s concentrated poverty rate from second highest in the state to highest.

The concentration of poor residents in high poverty neighborhoods can hinder upward income mobility and contribute to geographic disparities in education, employment, and homeownership. In Trenton’s extreme poverty neighborhoods, just 25.4% of heads of household own their homes, 10.0% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, and 21.3% of the labor force is unemployed. Outside of the city’s extreme poverty neighborhoods, 66.0% of heads of household own their homes, 41.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, and 8.1% of the workforce is unemployed.