Special Report

Poorest City in Every State

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Alabama: Birmingham
> Median household income: $36,753 (state: $51,734)
> Poverty rate: 25.2% (state: 15.5%)
> Median home value: $98,800 (state: $154,000)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 29.5% (state: 26.3%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 7.3% (state: 4.9%)
> Population: 210,080

The median annual household income in Birmingham, Alabama, is $36,753 — the lowest of any major city in Alabama and nearly $15,000 lower than the state’s median. It is the only one of Alabama’s eight major cities with a median household income below $40,000.

More than a quarter of Birmingham residents live below the poverty line, well above the 15.5% Alabama poverty rate and the 12.3% U.S. poverty rate. Nationwide, 5.8% of households live on less than $10,000 per year. In Birmingham, 16.5% of households live on that income level, the seventh highest share of any major city in the country.

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Alaska: Anchorage
> Median household income: $82,716 (state: $75,463)
> Poverty rate: 10.1% (state: 10.1%)
> Median home value: $314,600 (state: $281,200)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 36.3% (state: 30.2%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 5.4% (state: 5.8%)
> Population: 288,000

Anchorage is the only city in Alaska for which the Census ACS has 2019 data, and it ranks as the poorest city in the state by default only. The typical household in the city earns an income of $82,716 a year — over $7,000 more than the typical Alaska household income.

Though household incomes in Anchorage tend to be higher than household incomes in Alaska overall, the city’s poverty rate still aligns with the state’s poverty rate of 10.1%. This is well below the U.S. poverty rate of 12.3%.

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Arizona: Tucson
> Median household income: $44,365 (state: $62,055)
> Poverty rate: 19.1% (state: 13.5%)
> Median home value: $172,700 (state: $255,900)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.3% (state: 30.2%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 6.3% (state: 5.1%)
> Population: 548,082

Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona after Phoenix, with over half a million residents. Some 19.1%, or over 100,000 Tucson residents, live in poverty. Tucson has the lowest median household income of Arizona’s 17 major cities, with the typical household living on $44,365 a year.

Workers with a college degree tend to earn more than those without. In Tucson, 27.3% of adults 25 and older hold a college degree, compared to 30.2% of Arizona adults and 33.1% of American adults of the same age group.

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Arkansas: North Little Rock
> Median household income: $40,870 (state: $48,952)
> Poverty rate: 18.8% (state: 16.2%)
> Median home value: $138,800 (state: $136,200)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 28.7% (state: 23.3%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: N/A (state: 4.8%)
> Population: 65,899

The typical household in North Little Rock earns just $40,870 annually, about $8,000 less than the typical household in the state and neary $25,000 less than the typical household nationwide. North Little Rock residents are also far more likely to live below the poverty line than most Americans. Nearly 19% of the local population lives below the poverty line, compared to 16.2% of people living in the state and 12.3% of Americans nationwide.

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California: Hemet
> Median household income: $39,653 (state: $80,440)
> Poverty rate: 19.1% (state: 11.8%)
> Median home value: $231,900 (state: $568,500)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 10.4% (state: 35.0%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 10.1% (state: 5.1%)
> Population: 85,341

Hemet, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, is by far the poorest of California’s 142 major cities. The city’s median household income of $39,653 is more than $10,000 lower than the next closest city, San Bernardino. The typical household in Hemet earns less than half of what the typical California household does.

Hemet residents are much more likely to live in poverty compared to California residents overall, as 19.1% of residents live below the poverty line compared to 11.8% of residents statewide. City workers are also nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical Californian worker. Due to these economic struggles more residents likely need help with basic needs. Some 16.1% of Hemet households received food stamps in the past 12 months, compared to 8.4% of state households and 10.7% of American households.

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