Special Report

The Poorest City In Every State

The consumer price index has climbed steadily nearly every month for the last two and a half years, hitting a multi-decade high of 9.1% in June 2022. Though inflation has since cooled, dropping to 7.7% in October, the CPI remains at historic highs, and Americans across the country are feeling the pinch – particularly those without the means to absorb rising costs. (The price of this household item is soaring.) 

The typical American household earns $64,994 annually, according to five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. But in nearly every state, there are cities where most households are earning far less than that. 

Using data from the 2020 ACS, 24/7 Wall St. identified the poorest city in each state. Cities, defined in this story as places with populations exceeding 25,000, are ranked by median household income. All supplemental data is also from the ACS. 

Among the cities on this list, median household incomes range from about $65,700 to just $24,000. Hawaii is the only state where no city has a median income lower than the national median. In all but two cities on this list, the share of the population living below the poverty line exceeds the 12.8% national poverty rate. 

A college education can open up a range of job opportunities and greatly increase one’s lifetime earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical worker with a bachelor’s degree earns over $500 more per week than someone with just a high school diploma. In most cities on this list – 40 out of 50 – the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is below the 32.9% national share. And in the vast majority of cities on this list, unemployment is higher than it is across the state as a whole. (Here is a look at the best and worst states to find a job in 2022.)

Home values are a reflection of what people can afford, and not surprisingly, home values tend to be low in these cities. In all but six of the poorest cities in each state, the median home value is less than what the typical American home is worth, and in 45 of these places, the median home value is below the statewide median.

Click here to see the poorest city in every state.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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