Special Report

Cities Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty in Every State

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Massachusetts: Springfield
> Concentrated poverty rate: 27.4% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 16.2% (state: 10.6%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 16 out of 133
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 16.2% in poor neighborhoods; 5.7% in all other neighborhoods

Economic segregation is worse in Springfield than in every other metro area in Massachusetts. More than one in every four residents living below the poverty line reside in neighborhoods with poverty rates of 40% or higher. The metro area’s Hispanic and Latino residents are disproportionately housed in these disadvantaged neighborhoods. Though only about 20% of the metro area population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, a little over 70% of residents in concentrated poverty neighborhoods are Hispanic or Latino.

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Michigan: Flint
> Concentrated poverty rate: 33.6% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 19.8% (state: 14.6%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 22 out of 129
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 22.7% in poor neighborhoods; 8.1% in all other neighborhoods

More than one-third of the Flint population living below the poverty line resides in neighborhoods with poverty rates of 40% or higher — a higher concentrated poverty rate than any other metro area in the state and one of the highest nationwide. Economic opportunity is lacking in Flint’s poorest neighborhoods as more than 22.7% of the labor force in these areas is unemployed, compared to a jobless rate of 8.1% in the rest of the metro area.

The difference in incomes between high-poverty neighborhoods and the rest of the city is further evidence of the economic segregation in Flint. Across the 22 neighborhoods in the metro area with concentrated poverty, the average annual household income is a little under $35,000 compared to income of over $68,000 in the metro area’s remaining neighborhoods.

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Minnesota: Duluth
> Concentrated poverty rate: 13.9% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 14.1% (state: 9.9%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 6 out of 84
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 6.4% in poor neighborhoods; 4.4% in all other neighborhoods

Duluth’s concentrated poverty rate of 13.9% is below the concentrated poverty rate in Minnesota’s metro areas of Mankato and St. Cloud. However, those two metro areas are home to Minnesota State University and St. Cloud State University — and their concentrated poverty neighborhoods are, in large part, consist of college and university students, meaning economic disadvantages are not likely as severe as the data would suggest. Controlling for student populations, Duluth ranks as the city hit hardest by extreme poverty in Minnesota.

With a poverty rate of 14.1%, Duluth is also the poorest metro area in Minnesota. In the poorest neighborhoods in the metro area, 27.1% of households rely on SNAP benefits to afford basic necessities, more than double the 9.8% SNAP recipiency rate in the neighborhoods across the city with poverty rates below 40%.

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Mississippi: Jackson
> Concentrated poverty rate: 24.4% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 17.1% (state: 20.7%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 17 out of 127
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 19.3% in poor neighborhoods; 6.3% in all other neighborhoods

In Jackson, 24.4% of residents living below the poverty line reside in neighborhoods where at least 40% of the population also lives in poverty — making it the worst metro area for concentrated poverty in Mississippi. As is often the case in the metro areas on this list, minority populations are disproportionately housed in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Though only 48.8% of Jackson’s population is Black, nearly 90% of residents in concentrated poverty neighborhoods in the metro area are Black.

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Missouri: Cape Girardeau
> Concentrated poverty rate: 27.8% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 17.5% (state: 14.0%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 4 out of 22
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 9.8% in poor neighborhoods; 4.5% in all other neighborhoods

Cape Girardeau has the worst concentrated poverty in Missouri and some of the worst of any metro area nationwide. Nearly 28% of the more than 16,000 metro area residents earning poverty level incomes reside in neighborhoods where at least 40% of the population also lives in poverty.

In the poorest neighborhoods of Cape Girardeau, the 2018 unemployment rate is 9.8%, more than double the 4.5% jobless rate in the rest of the metro area.