Special Report

Poorest City in Every State

Source: Art Wager / Getty Images

Hawaii: Urban Honolulu
> Median household income: $72,943 (state: $83,102)
> Poverty rate: 9.4% (state: 9.3%)
> Median home value: $754,700 (state: $669,200)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 38.6% (state: 33.6%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 3.8% (state: 3.9%)
> Population: 345,055

Honolulu is the only city in Hawaii for which the Census ACS has 2019 data, and it ranks as the poorest city in the state by default only. The typical Honolulu household has an income of $72,943 a year, well below the median income across the state of $83,102. Despite lower incomes overall, Honolulu residents are not necessarily more likely than the typical Hawaiian to face serious financial hardship. The city’s poverty rate of 9.4% is in line with the 9.3% statewide rate.

Additionally, although Honolulu’s median household income is lower than the state as a whole, it is well above the $65,712 national median.

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Idaho: Nampa
> Median household income: $57,352 (state: $60,999)
> Poverty rate: 7.8% (state: 11.2%)
> Median home value: $214,000 (state: $255,200)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 21.2% (state: 28.7%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 2.8% (state: 3.3%)
> Population: 99,276

Nampa is the only one of Idaho’s three major cities with a median household income lower than the state’s median of nearly $61,000. The city is also home to a very small share of wealthy residents. Only 1.1% of households earn over $200,000 per year, compared to 8.5% of American households overall.

Though it is the poorest city in Idaho, Nampa performs well in a number of economic indicators. Its 2019 unemployment rate of 2.8% is lower than both the state and U.S. unemployment rates. Nampa also has a relatively small share of people living in poverty, at 7.8%. Across Idaho, 11.2% of people live below the poverty line, as do 12.3% of Americans.

Source: Ron Reiring / Wikimedia Commons

Illinois: Decatur
> Median household income: $41,440 (state: $69,187)
> Poverty rate: 24.4% (state: 11.5%)
> Median home value: $87,800 (state: $209,100)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 20.7% (state: 35.8%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 8.0% (state: 4.8%)
> Population: 69,553

With a median annual household income of $41,440, Decatur is the poorest of the 19 cities in Illinois. The city’s median household income is more than $5,000 lower than the next poorest city. Residents of Decatur, which is about 40 miles east of Springfield near the middle of Illinois, are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as the typical Illinois resident, with a 24.4% poverty rate.

Homes in Decatur have not just the lowest value of any Illinois city, but also among the lowest in the country. The typical U.S. home is worth over $240,000, and the typical Illinois home is worth nearly $210,000. In Decatur, the typical home is worth $87,800, lower than the median value of all but 13 other U.S. cities.

Source: Lotzman Katzman / Wikimedia Commons

Indiana: Gary
> Median household income: $31,341 (state: $57,603)
> Poverty rate: 30.0% (state: 11.9%)
> Median home value: $63,800 (state: $156,000)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 14.0% (state: 26.9%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 12.6% (state: 4.2%)
> Population: 70,778

Gary, Indiana’s median annual household income of $31,341 is lower than the median in all other major U.S. cities, except for one. The city’s poverty rate of 30% and unemployment rate of 12.6% are each more than double the statewide and nationwide rates and rank among the highest of all 621 major U.S. cities.

Home prices generally reflect what people in the area can afford to pay, and homes in Indiana tend to have relatively low values. The typical home in the state is worth $156,000, well below the U.S. median of $240,500. And homes in Gary are worth even less than half of the Indiana median, at $63,800. Only a handful of other U.S. cities have lower median home prices.

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Iowa: Iowa City
> Median household income: $50,497 (state: $61,691)
> Poverty rate: 25.9% (state: 11.2%)
> Median home value: $243,500 (state: $158,900)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 62.1% (state: 29.3%)
> 2019 unemployment rate: 4.0% (state: 3.7%)
> Population: 75,149

Most households in Iowa City earn less than $50,500 a year. Meanwhile, most households across the state earn at least $61,000 annually.

Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and the cities on this list tend to have relatively small college-educated populations. Iowa City is a notable exception, however. Home to the University of Iowa, Iowa City has a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 62.1%. For context, only 33.1% of adults nationwide have a four year degree, and only 29.3% of adults in Iowa do. Student populations in cities with large universities tend to skew income and poverty data.

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