Special Report

Cities Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty in Every State

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Oklahoma: Lawton
> Concentrated poverty rate: 15.3% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 15.5% (state: 15.8%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 3 out of 33
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 14.1% in poor neighborhoods; 7.1% in all other neighborhoods

With a poverty rate of 15.5%, Lawton is the poorest metro area in Oklahoma. It is also the most economically segregated metro area in the state, as 15.3% of residents who live below the poverty line live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. The kinds of problems associated with poverty can be compounded by living in a largely poor neighborhood, and for many living in these neighborhoods, climbing out of poverty is especially difficult. For example, labor force participants who live in Lawton’s concentrated poverty neighborhoods are about twice as likely as those in other parts of the metro area to be unemployed.

Source: Grant Wylie / Getty Images

Oregon: Medford
> Concentrated poverty rate: 2.7% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 16.3% (state: 13.8%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 1 out of 41
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 15.9% in poor neighborhoods; 6.4% in all other neighborhoods

There are 34,519 people living below the poverty line in Medford, Oregon, and about 3% of them reside in a community characterized by concentrated poverty. As is often the case in the metro areas on this list, the job market in Medford’s poorest area is suffering tremendously. Nearly 16% of labor force participants living in concentrated poverty in Medford are unemployed, well more than double the 6.4% jobless rate in the rest of the metro area.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Pennsylvania: Reading
> Concentrated poverty rate: 31.4% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 12.8% (state: 12.5%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 10 out of 89
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 21.0% in poor neighborhoods; 5.6% in all other neighborhoods

Reading is the most economically segregated metro area in Pennsylvania and one of the most economically segregated in the United States. Nearly one-third of the 51,245 metro area residents who live on poverty level incomes reside in neighborhoods where at least 40% of all residents also live below the poverty line. Access to employment opportunities can be relatively limited in poor neighborhoods, and in Reading’s concentrated poverty communities, the unemployment rate stands at 21.0%, nearly four times the 5.6% jobless rate across the rest of the metro area.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

Rhode Island: Providence-Warwick
> Concentrated poverty rate: 4.1% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 12.5% (state: 13.0%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 5 out of 359
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 12.7% in poor neighborhoods; 5.9% in all other neighborhoods

Providence is the only metro area in Rhode Island and ranks as having the worst concentrated poverty in the state by default. There are five neighborhoods in greater Providence characterized by concentrated poverty, and they are home to 4.1% of the metro area’s 193,214 residents who live below the poverty line.

Economic opportunity tends to be scarce in high-poverty communities. Members of the labor force living in Providence’s poorest neighborhood are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as those living in the rest of the metro area.

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

South Carolina: Charleston-North Charleston
> Concentrated poverty rate: 10.4% of poor pop. live in poor neighborhoods
> Overall poverty rate: 13.3% (state: 15.8%)
> Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty: 7 out of 151
> 2018 Census unemployment rate: 9.6% in poor neighborhoods; 4.7% in all other neighborhoods

Greater Charleston is the most economically segregated metropolitan area in South Carolina. More than 10% Charleston residents living below the poverty line live in one of seven neighborhoods in the metro area characterized by concentrated poverty.

Though Charleston has the highest concentrated poverty rate in South Carolina, it is not the poorest metropolitan area in the state. Charleston’s overall poverty rate of 13.3% is lower than the statewide poverty rate of 15.8% and lower than several other metropolitan areas in South Carolina, including Florence and Sumpter, which have poverty rates exceeding 20%.

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.