Special Report

Cities Hit Hardest By Extreme Poverty

There are almost 40 million people in the 48 contiguous U.S. states – about one in eight –  living below the poverty level. That is defined as those with an annual income threshold of $12,880 for an individual and $26,500 for a family of four (Alaska and Hawaii have a slightly higher threshold). 

All cities have poor neighborhoods, but some cities have a higher percentage of poorer districts than others. To identify the 25 cities hit hardest by extreme poverty, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year data on concentrated poverty from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. 

Metropolitan areas were ranked based on the share of poor residents who live in extreme poverty neighborhoods – census tracts with a poverty rate of 40% or higher. This measure is called the extreme or concentrated poverty rate, and is calculated by aggregating data from the census tract level to the metropolitan area level. (Here is the county where the fewest children live in poverty in every state). 

Of the 25 cities on the list, almost one-third are in metropolitan areas in the South, including the two hardest-hit cities on the list – Albany and Macon-Bibb County, both in Georgia. Ten of the cities are in four Midwest states: Michigan (four), Ohio (three), and Indiana (two), and Illinois (one). 

Albany, Georgia, the city with the most extreme poverty, is also the only metro area with the highest concentration of its poor population living in poor neighborhoods above 40%.

Click here to see the cities hit hardest by extreme poverty
Click here to see our full methodology

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