Special Report

Cities Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty in Every State

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

Virginia: Roanoke
> Concentrated poverty rate: 15.5% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 13.4% (state: 10.7%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 3 out of 65
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 8.6% in poor neighborhoods; 4.9% in all other neighborhoods

Nearly 41,000 Roanoke residents live below the poverty line, and 15.5% of them also reside in concentrated poverty neighborhoods, which can compound economic hardship. Over a third of all households in concentrated poverty neighborhoods in the greater Roanoke area rely on SNAP benefits compared to fewer than one in every 10 households in the rest of the metro area.

Minority populations in Roanoke are disproportionately concentrated in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Though only 12.9% of the metro area population is Black, in Roanoke’s concentrated poverty neighborhoods, nearly 60% of the population is Black.

Source: Cecil_Kindle / Getty Images

Washington: Kennewick-Richland
> Concentrated poverty rate: 9.3% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 13.7% (state: 11.3%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 1 out of 48
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 8.3% in poor neighborhoods; 5.2% in all other neighborhoods

Though Bellingham, Washington, has a 10.5% concentrated poverty rate, it is also home to several colleges and universities, and enrolled students comprise a large share of those living in the metro area’s concentrated poverty neighborhoods, likely skewing the severity of economic hardship in those neighborhoods. As a result, the Kennewick-Richland metro area, with a concentrated poverty rate of 9.3%, ranks as the worst city for extreme poverty in Washington.

Nearly 40% of households in the poorest neighborhoods in the greater Kennewick area rely on SNAP benefits, more than double the 14.2% share of households in the rest of the metro area.

Source: traveler1116 / Getty Images

West Virginia: Huntington-Ashland
> Concentrated poverty rate: 11.1% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 18.6% (state: 17.5%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 7 out of 92
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 10.8% in poor neighborhoods; 6.0% in all other neighborhoods

With an 18.6% poverty rate, Huntington-Ashland is the poorest metro area in West Virginia. It also has the worst economic segregation of any metropolitan area in the state as 11.1% of those living below the poverty line also reside in concentrated-poverty communities. As is typically the case, economic opportunities are relatively scarce in the poorer communities across greater Huntington. The unemployment rate stands at 10.8% in concentrated poverty neighborhoods and at just 6.0% in the rest of the metro area.

Source: Aneese / iStock

Wisconsin: Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis
> Concentrated poverty rate: 20.1% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 13.7% (state: 11.3%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 43 out of 422
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 12.0% in poor neighborhoods; 4.5% in all other neighborhoods

The Milwaukee metro area’s poverty rate of 13.7% is the highest of any of the dozen metro areas in the state and higher than the 11.3% state poverty rate. Milwaukee also has the highest concentrated poverty rate in the state with more than one in every five residents living on poverty level incomes residing in neighborhoods where at least 40% of residents are also living in poverty.

Minority populations in Milwaukee are disproportionately concentrated in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Though only 16.4% of the metro area population is Black, more than half of the population in Milwaukee’s concentrated-poverty neighborhoods is Black.

Source: Dean_Fikar / Getty Images

Wyoming: No metro area with concentrated poverty
> State poverty rate: 10.9%

Like its neighbors Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota, Wyoming is one of a handful of states where no metro areas have neighborhoods in which 40% or more of the population lives below the poverty line. Both Casper and Cheyenne, Wyoming’s only metro areas, have poverty rates below the 13.9% national rate, at 9.6% and 10.0%, respectively.

While serious financial hardship is not as common in Wyoming’s metro areas as it is nationwide, incomes tend to be slightly lower than typical. The average annual household incomes in Casper and Cheyenne are $78,892 and $80,350, respectively. Nationwide, the average household income is $85,123.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.