Special Report

Cities Where Having a Job Doesn’t Keep You Out of Poverty

While the U.S. unemployment rate reached 3.6% in April 2019, its lowest point since December 1969, many full-time workers in America struggle to stay out of poverty. Nationwide, some 3.1 million full-time workers, or 3% of all full-time workers, are considered working poor — individuals who work full-time, year-round jobs and earn incomes below the poverty line. 

So while having a full-time job certainly lowers the likelihood of living in poverty, it is no guarantee. For reference, the general poverty rate is 14.6%. 

To determine the cities where having a job does not keep you out of poverty, 24/7 Wall St. measured the ratio of the official poverty rate in each metro area to that area’s poverty rate among full-time, year-round workers aged 16 to 64. Nationwide, Americans with a full-time, year-round job are 4.9 times less likely than the general public to live in poverty. 

Among cities on this list, having a job is less advantageous, and full-time workers are between 3.6 times less likely to only twice as likely to stay out of poverty as the general public.

Of the 20 cities on this list, five are in Texas and three are in Louisiana. Florida, Idaho, and Georgia are each home to two, and Alabama, California, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah are each home to one. Many of these places are in states also represented on our list of states with the worst economies

Metro economies with high poverty rates among full-time workers tend to have large shares of workers employed in some of the lowest paying jobs in America. Some of the lowest paying sectors in the United States include leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation, utilities, and education and health services.

Click here to see the cities where having a job doesn’t keep you out of poverty
Click here to read our methodology