Special Report

Cities Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty in Every State

Source: Art Wager / Getty Images

Hawaii: Urban Honolulu
> Concentrated poverty rate: 5.4% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 8.7% (state: 9.9%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 3 out of 228
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 15.5% in poor neighborhoods; 4.2% in all other neighborhoods

Of the two metro areas in Hawaii — Urban Honolulu and Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina — Honolulu is the only one with neighborhoods where more than 40% of residents live below the poverty line. An estimated 5.4% of the 83,131 Honolulu metro area residents who live below the poverty line live in the three poorest communities in the city.

Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment. In the Urban Honolulu communities that are characterized by concentrated poverty, just 8.8% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, less than one-third of the 34.6% share of adults in the remaining neighborhoods across the metro area where less than 40% of the population lives in poverty.

Source: Ethan Prater from San Bruno, CA, USA / Wikimedia Commons

Idaho: No metro area with concentrated poverty
> State poverty rate: 13.7%

Idaho is one of a handful of states where no metro area qualifies for this list. Of the six metro areas located in the state, Pocatello is the only one with Census tracts where more than 40% of the population lives in poverty. However, Pocatello was not considered for this piece as it is home to Idaho State University, and college towns often have skewed poverty rates. In Pocatello, more than a third of the metro area’s concentrated poverty residents are college or graduate students.

Overall, poverty is not especially common in Idaho. The state’s poverty rate of 13.7% is just below the national poverty rate of 13.9%.

Source: pabradyphoto / Getty Images

Illinois: Springfield
> Concentrated poverty rate: 23.8% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 14.9% (state: 12.8%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 7 out of 56
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 12.3% in poor neighborhoods; 5.8% in all other neighborhoods

In Springfield, Illinois, 7,275 people live on poverty level incomes and in neighborhoods where at least 40% of residents also live below the poverty line. The 23.8% concentrated poverty rate in Springfield is the highest of any of the 10 metropolitan areas in the state.

This kind of economic segregation can make upward economic mobility more difficult for poor metro area residents living in poor communities. For example, the unemployment rate in Springfield’s concentrated poverty neighborhoods stands at 12.3%, more than double the 5.8% average unemployment rate in the other neighborhoods across the metro area.

Source: lydiabilby / Getty Images

Indiana: Muncie
> Concentrated poverty rate: 29.5% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 18.4% (state: 13.8%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 6 out of 27
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 13.0% in poor neighborhoods; 5.7% in all other neighborhoods

There are 18,353 people living below the poverty line in Muncie, Indiana, and nearly 30% of them reside in one of six local communities characterized by concentrated poverty. The metro area’s African American community is disproportionately affected by this economic segregation. Though only 6.9% of Muncie residents identify as Black, nearly one-third of residents of these low-income communities are Black.

Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build wealth in the United States. In Muncie’s poorest neighborhoods, the homeownership rate stands at just 34.6%, less than half the comparable rate of 73.0% in the rest of the metro area.

Source: Jacob Boomsma / Getty Images

Iowa: Waterloo-Cedar Falls
> Concentrated poverty rate: 8.9% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 13.8% (state: 11.1%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 3 out of 48
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 17.5% in poor neighborhoods; 3.6% in all other neighborhoods

Of the eight metro areas in Iowa, only Davenport, Sioux City, and Waterloo are home to Census tracts with poverty rates of at least 40%. In Waterloo, 8.9% of the population living below the poverty line resides in these concentrated poverty communities. This is higher than the concentrated poverty rate of 8.2% in Sioux City and 3.1% in Davenport.

Economic segregation in Waterloo is further evidenced by the difference in incomes between neighborhoods in the city. The average household income in the metro area’s three concentrated poverty neighborhoods is $34,814, less than half the average income of $75,095 across the city’s remaining neighborhoods.