Special Report

Poorest City in Every State

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Massachusetts: Fall River
> Median household income: $41,346 (state: $85,843)
> Poverty rate: 24.5% (state: 9.4%)
> Median home value: $259,600 (state: $418,600)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 15.7% (state: 45.0%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 8.3% (state: 3.9%)
> Population: 89,534

Massachusetts ranks as the second richest state in the country after Maryland, with a median household income of nearly $86,000. Yet not all cities in the state are wealthy, as the median household income of Fall River, in the southern part of the state, is less than half that, at just over $41,000.

Nearly a quarter of Fall River residents live below the poverty line, as compared to 9.4% of state residents overall. College-educated Americans are more likely to hold high paying jobs. Massachusetts is the best educated state in the nation, with 45% of adults holding at least a bachelor’s degree. In Fall River, fewer than 16% of adults hold a bachelor’s degree.

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Michigan: Flint
> Median household income: $32,236 (state: $59,584)
> Poverty rate: 32.6% (state: 13.0%)
> Median home value: $34,400 (state: $169,600)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 13.5% (state: 30.0%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 17.3% (state: 5.0%)
> Population: 95,541

Flint ranks as the poorest city in Michigan and one of the poorest in the United States. The typical household in the city earns $32,236 a year, less than half the national median household income of $65,712 and well below the state’s median of $59,584.

The large share of Flint households struggling financially is attributable in part to a lack of jobs. The unemployment rate in the city in 2019 averaged 17.3%, the highest of any city in the country.

Source: Jeff Wood / Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota: St. Cloud
> Median household income: $53,829 (state: $74,593)
> Poverty rate: 18.2% (state: 9.0%)
> Median home value: $169,500 (state: $246,700)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.7% (state: 37.3%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 4.0% (state: 3.2%)
> Population: 66,741

The median annual household income in St. Cloud, Minnesota, of $53,829 is nearly $21,000 less than the statewide median of $74,593. Housing prices in a given area typically mirror what residents can afford — and in St. Cloud, real estate is less expensive than it is in every other city in the state. The typical home in the city is worth $169,500, about $77,000 below the median home value of $246,700 across Minnesota.

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Mississippi: Gulfport
> Median household income: $36,013 (state: $45,792)
> Poverty rate: 30.7% (state: 19.6%)
> Median home value: $123,800 (state: $128,200)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 20.7% (state: 22.3%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 10.6% (state: 6.6%)
> Population: 71,701

Gulfport is the poorest city in one of the poorest states. Across all of Mississippi, most households earn less than $46,000 a year, while nationwide, most households earn over $65,000 a year. Additionally, the national poverty rate of 12.3% is well below the 19.6% poverty rate in Mississippi and the 30.7% rate in Gulfport.

Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment. In Gulfport, just 20.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 22.3% of adults in Mississippi and 33.1% of adults nationwide.

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Missouri: Springfield
> Median household income: $35,677 (state: $57,409)
> Poverty rate: 20.9% (state: 12.9%)
> Median home value: $124,000 (state: $168,000)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 26.2% (state: 30.2%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 3.8% (state: 3.8%)
> Population: 167,864

The median annual household income in Springfield of $35,677 is more than $20,000 below the median income in Missouri as a whole. Springfield is by far the poorest major city in the state and the 11th poorest major city in America.

The Southwestern Missouri city’s poverty rate of 20.9% is well above the state and national poverty rates. Unlike many other cities on this list, Springfield has a relatively low unemployment rate, at 3.8%. This is in line with Missouri’s unemployment rate and below the national 4.5% unemployment rate for 2019.