17. El Paso, TX
> Concentrated poverty rate: 16.6%
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 10.6%
> Total number of poor neighborhoods: 19 (11.8% of all neighborhoods)
> Change in concentrated poverty (2011-2017): -12.2 ppt
El Paso, Texas, has a higher than average 21.8% poverty rate. Of the more than 179,000 metro area poor residents, 16.6% live in neighborhoods where at least 40% of the population is also considered poor. Despite having one of the highest extreme poverty rates in the country, El Paso has improved considerably in the last five years. As recently as 2011, the metro area’s extreme poverty rate was 28.8% — 12.2 percentage points higher than it is today.
Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and in El Paso’s poorest neighborhoods, nearly half of the adult population has not completed high school.
16. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
> Concentrated poverty rate: 17.4%
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 18.8%
> Total number of poor neighborhoods: 43 (8.7% of all neighborhoods)
> Change in concentrated poverty (2011-2017): +2.5 ppt
Cincinnati is one of four Ohio cities to rank on this list. Some 279,000 people in the broader metro area live below the poverty line, and 17.4% of them face additional challenges of living in neighborhoods where at least 40% of their neighbors also live on poverty level incomes. Unemployment is a severe problem in these parts of the city, as 18.8% of workers living there are out of a job — more than triple the 5.3% unemployment rate in the rest of the metro area.
Nationwide, extreme poverty has become less common in recent years, falling 1.6 percentage points from 12.9% in 2011 to 11.3% in 2017. In Cincinnati, however, extreme poverty climbed by 2.5 percentage points over the same period, from 14.9% to 17.4%.
15. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
> Concentrated poverty rate: 17.5%
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 10.1%
> Total number of poor neighborhoods: 64 (6.6% of all neighborhoods)
> Change in concentrated poverty (2011-2017): +0.6 ppt
Nearly 123,000 people in Phoenix live on poverty level incomes in one of the metro area’s 64 extremely poor neighborhoods, where 40% of the population is poor. Americans living in extreme poverty face greater hurdles to economic and social mobility. At Phoenix’s poor neighborhoods, just 8.1% of adults have a bachelor’s degree compared to 31.4% of adults in the rest of the metro area.
Crime tends to be more common in poor neighborhoods, and the high concentration of poverty in Phoenix may be driving the metro area’s overall violent crime rate. There were 471 violent crimes for every 100,000 Phoenix residents in 2017, well above the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000.
14. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
> Concentrated poverty rate: 20.1%
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 19.0%
> Total number of poor neighborhoods: 89 (6.2% of all neighborhoods)
> Change in concentrated poverty (2011-2017): -1.0 ppt
The Philadelphia metro area is not especially poor — the area’s 13.1% poverty rate is below the 14.6% national poverty rate. It is, however, a heavily economically segregated metro area. Of the 773,000 people living in poverty in Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, over 20% are concentrated in poor neighborhoods.
Such a concentration of poverty adds to the hardship associated with financial insecurity. Poor Americans living in poor neighborhoods tend to be less upwardly mobile. For example, incomes tend to rise with education, and across the neighborhoods in Philadelphia where 40% or more of the population lives in poverty, only 8.6% of adults have a bachelor’s degree. In the rest of the metro area, 37.5% of adults have a four-year college education.
13. Rochester, NY
> Concentrated poverty rate: 21.4%
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 20.4%
> Total number of poor neighborhoods: 30 (11.4% of all neighborhoods)
> Change in concentrated poverty (2011-2017): +0.4 ppt
Rochester is one of four New York metro areas to rank on this list. Of the more than 146,000 metro area residents living in poverty, 21.4% are concentrated in neighborhoods where at least 40% of the population also lives in poverty. Employment opportunities in poor neighborhoods tend to be scarce, and across Rochester’s 30 poor neighborhoods, the unemployment rate stands at 20.4%. Across the rest of the metro area, just 5.5% of the labor force is unemployed.
Hispanics are disproportionately affected by extreme poverty in Rochester. Of the metro area’s Hispanic population living below the poverty line, 37.4% live in concentrated poverty neighborhoods compared to 23.6% of the poor white Rochester residents and 9.2% of poor black residents.
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