Based on the latest data released in September by the U.S. Census Bureau, poverty is on the decline in the United States. In 2017, an estimated 13.4% of Americans lived below the poverty line, down from 14.0% in 2016.
While the improvement is good news, there are many parts of the country where residents are much more likely to struggle with poverty. The poverty threshold is set by the federal government and depends on the size of the family. In the 48 contiguous states, the federal poverty level for a family of four is an annual income of $28,100.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed metro area level poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau to identify the cities with the highest poverty rates. In 38 of the 382 metro areas reviewed at least one in five residents live in poverty. As would be expected, the majority of these metro areas are in states where low incomes are common. Of the 38 metro areas, 17 are in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, or West Virginia.
The 38 metropolitan areas with at least a 20% poverty rate also face other issues commonly associated with poverty. In many, unemployment is relatively high, educational attainment is low, and a large share of available jobs are in low-paying sectors.