Special Report

Cities Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty

For the nearly 46.9 million Americans living below the poverty line, financial insecurity affects nearly every aspect of daily life — from personal relationships to physical and mental health. Just as poverty takes a toll on the individual, communities where large shares of the populations live in poverty can also suffer tremendously.

The U.S. poverty rate stands at 14.6%. Concentrated poverty is defined as neighborhoods with poverty rates of 40% or more. Individuals living on poverty level income in concentrated poverty neighborhoods face not only the personal effects of poverty, but also broader, communal effects. These often include higher crime rates, underperforming schools, and limited economic opportunity.

Nationwide, 11.3% of those living in poverty also live in concentrated poverty neighborhoods. This level of extreme poverty is much more common in some of America’s largest cities. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of the population living below the poverty line in concentrated poverty neighborhoods in the nation’s 100 largest metro areas to identify the cities hit hardest by extreme poverty.

The cities on this list are not necessarily the poorest cities in the country. Several, including Cincinnati, New York, and Philadelphia, actually have a lower poverty rate than the U.S. as a whole. They are, however, the most economically segregated cities in the country.

Concentrated poverty neighborhoods foster a vicious cycle of poverty among those who live there, and economic and social mobility in these places tend to be limited. In most of these cities, residents of concentrated poverty neighborhoods are less than half as likely to be homeowners and have a college education and more than twice as likely to be unemployed as residents of neighborhoods with poverty rates below 40%.

Often, non-white minority residents of the cities on this list are disproportionately affected by extreme poverty. Several cities on this list also rank among the worst cities for black Americans.

Click here to see the cities hit hardest by extreme poverty

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