Special Report

Poorest City in Every State

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South Dakota: Rapid City
> Median household income: $51,296 (state: $59,533)
> Poverty rate: 13.7% (state: 11.9%)
> Median home value: $207,300 (state: $185,000)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.0% (state: 29.7%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 5.8% (state: 3.0%)
> Population: 77,496

The median household income in Rapid City, South Dakota, of $51,296 is about $10,000 below the median household income in Sioux Falls — the only other city in the state covered by the 2019 ACS. Rapid City’s lower median income is likely due in part to a weak job market. An average of 5.8% of the city’s labor force were unemployed in 2019, compared to just 2.1% in Sioux Falls and 3.0% across the state as a whole.

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Tennessee: Knoxville
> Median household income: $41,388 (state: $56,071)
> Poverty rate: 21.8% (state: 13.9%)
> Median home value: $155,400 (state: $191,900)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.9% (state: 28.7%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 4.4% (state: 4.5%)
> Population: 187,610

Knoxville has the lowest median annual household income of Tennessee’s nine major cities, at $41,388. The city has an outsized share of households living on very low income, as 11.1% of Knoxville households earn under $10,000 annually. Statewide, fewer than 10% of households have this level of income, and nationwide, just 5.8% do.

Though it ranks as Tennessee’s poorest city, Knoxville’s unemployment rate of 4.4% is actually slightly lower than the state and national rate of 4.5%.

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Texas: Pharr
> Median household income: $36,342 (state: $64,034)
> Poverty rate: 38.1% (state: 13.6%)
> Median home value: $82,000 (state: $200,400)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 13.1% (state: 30.8%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: N/A (state: 4.4%)
> Population: 79,115

Pharr, a small city in southern Texas, has a median annual household income of just $36,342, the lowest of any city in the state and about $28,000 below what the median household income across the state as a whole.

Adults with higher educational attainment typically earn higher than average incomes. In Pharr, only 13.1% of the 25 and older population have a four-year college degree, well below the 30.8% share of adults in the same age groups across all of Texas.

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Utah: Provo
> Median household income: $53,864 (state: $75,780)
> Poverty rate: 24.7% (state: 8.9%)
> Median home value: $335,700 (state: $330,300)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 45.3% (state: 34.8%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 4.5% (state: 3.2%)
> Population: 116,616

With a median annual household income of $53,864, Provo, Utah, is the only one of the state’s 11 major cities with a median household income lower than $60,000. About 45 miles south of Salt Lake City, Provo is home to Brigham Young University, which may explain why the city’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate is so high, at 45.3%.

Provo residents are well more than twice as likely to live in poverty than Utahns overall, as 24.7% live below the poverty, compared to 8.9% of residents statewide. Despite the relatively low incomes and high poverty rate, Provo homes tend to be worth more than the typical home in Utah.

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Virginia: Roanoke
> Median household income: $45,838 (state: $76,456)
> Poverty rate: 20.6% (state: 9.9%)
> Median home value: $147,300 (state: $288,800)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 23.8% (state: 39.6%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 3.9% (state: 4.0%)
> Population: 99,143

Virginia is a relatively wealthy state. Most households in the state earn over $76,000 a year, about $10,000 more than the national median household income. Not all parts of the state are wealthier than the U.S. as a whole, however. In Roanoke, the median household income is just $45,838 annually. Roanoke also has a far higher than average poverty rate. About one in every five local residents live below the poverty line, compared to about one in every 10 Virginians who do.

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