Special Report

Poorest City in Every State

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New Mexico: Las Cruces
> Median household income: $45,130 (state: $51,945)
> Poverty rate: 22.2% (state: 18.2%)
> Median home value: $165,300 (state: $180,900)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.6% (state: 27.7%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 8.1% (state: 5.5%)
> Population: 103,436

Incomes are far lower across New Mexico than they are nationwide. The typical household in the state earns $51,945 a year, well below the national household median of $65,712. In Las Cruces, where most households earn less than $45,200 a year, incomes are even lower.

Though Las Cruces has the lowest median income of any city in the state, incomes have risen significantly in the city recently. As recently as 2018, the median household income in Las Cruces was just $35,924.

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New York: Rochester
> Median household income: $37,711 (state: $72,108)
> Poverty rate: 25.3% (state: 13.0%)
> Median home value: $87,000 (state: $338,700)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 28.2% (state: 37.8%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 6.0% (state: 4.4%)
> Population: 205,704

Though New York is one of the wealthiest states, not all of its 11 major cities and places covered by the 2019 ACS have high incomes. Rochester’s median household income of $37,711 is lower than all but 20 other U.S. cities. Rochester, just south of Lake Ontario in Western New York, has a poverty rate over 25%, nearly double the statewide poverty rate.

Home prices in a region typically reflect what area residents can afford, and in Rochester, most homes are very inexpensive. The city’s median home value of $87,000 is a fraction of the statewide median home value of $338,700 and the U.S. median of $240,500.

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North Carolina: Fayetteville
> Median household income: $43,789 (state: $57,341)
> Poverty rate: 19.3% (state: 13.6%)
> Median home value: $128,000 (state: $193,200)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 26.8% (state: 32.3%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 7.9% (state: 4.6%)
> Population: 211,674

Fayetteville, North Carolina, ranks as the poorest city in the state. The typical household in the city earns just $43,789 a year, well below the statewide median income of $57,341. The low median income in the area is likely partially a product of a weak job market. An average of 7.9% of the Fayetteville labor force was unemployed in 2019, well above the comparable 4.6% unemployment rate across North Carolina over the same period.

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North Dakota: Fargo
> Median household income: $52,810 (state: $64,577)
> Poverty rate: 16.1% (state: 10.6%)
> Median home value: $236,800 (state: $205,400)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.3% (state: 30.4%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 2.8% (state: 2.6%)
> Population: 123,736

Fargo, one of just two North Dakota cities covered in the 2019 ACS, is the poorest city in the state as most households earn less than $53,000 in a year. The median household income in North Dakota’s other large city, Bismarck, is over $65,000.

Though Fargo’s 2019 unemployment rate, at 2.8%, was higher than North Dakota’s rate, it was still one of the lower unemployment rates in the nation, and well below the 4.5% U.S. rate. Yet Fargo’s poverty rate of 16.1% is much higher than North Dakota’s 10.6% poverty rate.

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Ohio: Youngstown
> Median household income: $29,143 (state: $58,642)
> Poverty rate: 37.9% (state: 13.1%)
> Median home value: $50,200 (state: $157,200)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 16.7% (state: 29.3%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 13.7% (state: 4.6%)
> Population: 65,479

Youngstown is the poorest city not only in Ohio but the entire country. It is the only city in the U.S. where most households earn less than $30,000 a year. Additionally, 37.9% of the Youngstown population lives below the poverty line compared to 13.1% of the Ohio population and 12.3% of all Americans.

A Rust Belt city, Youngstown’s job market has been hollowed out with the decline of American manufacturing. Unemployment stood at 13.7% in the city in 2019, more than double the 4.6% statewide jobless rate.