America’s Poorest Metro Areas

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This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2018 data for large geographic areas, including states, metropolitan areas, and mid- to large-sized cities. On a national level, the median household income increased 0.8% to $61,937. The poverty rate fell slightly, from 13.4% to 13.1%. 

While that is good news for the United States as a whole, there is much evidence that income inequality is rising dramatically across the country. Even in some of the places where the poverty rate is officially declining (a smaller share of the population lives in poverty), the incomes of the poor are actually falling or poor people are becoming more concentrated in poor neighborhoods

In many U.S. metropolitan areas, incomes remain well below the national median — in some places as much as $15,000 to $25,000 below. Most of these places have poverty rates in excess of 20%, and in one case above 30%. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 50 U.S. metropolitan areas with the lowest median household incomes. 

Unemployment and poverty are closely tied, as households with unemployed workers are much more likely to have low incomes. The vast majority of these lowest-income metro areas have unemployment rates well above the July unemployment rate of 3.7%.

To determine the poorest metro areas in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey. We reviewed the 50 metropolitan areas with the lowest median annual household incomes. Poverty rates and educational attainment rates also came from the ACS. Unemployment rates are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are seasonally adjusted for July 2019, the most recent period for which data is available.

These metro areas can be found all across the country. The three with the lowest incomes are in Georgia, New Mexico, and Arkansas. While these 50 metro areas tend to be concentrated in the South, low-income cities can be found all across the United States. In the vast majority of states, there is at least one city with incomes well below the national figure. Click here to see the poorest city in every state.

Click here to see America’s poorest metro areas