America’s Poorest Cities

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The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report on income and poverty in the United States earlier this week. Encouragingly, income of the typical American household climbed in 2017.

The latest Census release also confirmed the continuation of a longer-term trend: the increasing concentration of wealth at the top of the income distribution. According research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit nonpartisan think tank, incomes for the top 5% of earners climbed six times faster than incomes for the bottom 20%.

The negative effects of this trend are evident in many of America’s poorest cities.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2017 data from the U.S. Census Bureau to identify the 42 metro areas where the typical household earns less than $45,000 annually. In over half of these cities, the median household income declined in 2017, a stark break from the broader U.S. trend.

The cities on this list share several characteristics, including high unemployment, low property values, and low educational attainment. While a handful are in the Midwest and western United States, they are largely confined to the South. None of the cities on this list are in the Northeast.

Source: Richard David Ramsey / Wikimedia Commons

42. Hammond, LA
> Median household income: $44,861
> Median income change 2016-2017: -$3,301 (-6.9%)
> Median home value: $157,500
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 19.1% (bottom 20%)
> July unemployment: 5.8% (top 10%)

Source: Bravidos / Wikimedia Commons

41. Morristown, TN
> Median household income: $44,840
> Median income change 2016-2017: +$492 (+1.1%)
> Median home value: $142,700
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 14.9% (bottom 10%)
> July unemployment: 4.0%

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

40. Bay City, MI
> Median household income: $44,770
> Median income change 2016-2017: +$14 (+0.0%)
> Median home value: $102,800 (bottom 10%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 21.9%
> July unemployment: 4.6%

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

39. Fayetteville, NC
> Median household income: $44,757
> Median income change 2016-2017: -$536 (-1.2%)
> Median home value: $138,100
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 23.6%
> July unemployment: 5.0% (top 20%)

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

38. Gainesville, FL
> Median household income: $44,548
> Median income change 2016-2017: -$731 (-1.6%)
> Median home value: $170,700
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 38.7% (top 20%)
> July unemployment: 3.2%