Special Report

The City in Every State Where the Most People Live in Poverty

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In any given year over the last three decades, anywhere from 31.6 million to 48.8 million Americans were living below the poverty line. Over that period, the annual U.S. poverty rate climbed as high as 15.9%, and never fell below 11.3%. 

Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services sets the poverty line in the continental United States at an annual income of $14,580 for individuals and $30,000 for a family of four. According to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 40.5 million people — or 12.5% of the population — were living below that threshold in 2022.

In nearly every state, however, there are cities where poverty is much more widespread. Using five-year estimates from the 2022 ACS, 24/7 Wall St. identified the city with the highest poverty rate in every state. We considered all cities, towns, and census-designated areas with available data and populations of more than 25,000. In Vermont, only one city met these qualifications, and as a result, it ranks as having the highest poverty rate in the state by default only. 

Despite the places on the list representing those with the highest poverty rate in each state, poverty rates among them range from as low as 9.7% to as high as nearly 46%. Of the 50 states, Alaska and Wyoming are the only two where no city had a higher poverty rate than the state as a whole. In these states, the data suggests that poverty is more common in rural areas than in more densely-populated cities and towns. (Here is a look at the cities with the lowest poverty rates.)

Even for those not living in poverty in these cities, incomes tend to be relatively low. In every city on this list, the typical household earns less per year than the typical household across the state as a whole — in most cases by tens of thousands of dollars. (Here is a look at America’s 26 poorest large cities.)

With low incomes and high poverty rates, residents of these cities are more likely to rely on government assistance to afford basic necessities. In all but eight of these cities, the share of households that receive SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, exceeds the 11.5% national SNAP recipiency rate.

Scroll below to see the city where most people live below the poverty line in every state.

Alabama: Bessemer

  • Poverty rate: 32.0% (Alabama: 15.7%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 8,124 (Alabama: 768,897)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 28.5% (Alabama: 13.3%)
  • Median household income: $34,953 (Alabama: $59,609)
  • No. of cities considered in Alabama: 23

Alaska: Fairbanks

  • Poverty rate: 9.7% (Alaska: 10.5%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 2,894 (Alaska: 75,227)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 11.5% (Alaska: 10.5%)
  • Median household income: $69,914 (Alaska: $86,370)
  • No. of cities considered in Alaska: 3

Arizona: San Luis

  • Poverty rate: 24.9% (Arizona: 13.1%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,905 (Arizona: 916,876)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 39.7% (Arizona: 10.1%)
  • Median household income: $46,747 (Arizona: $72,581)
  • No. of cities considered in Arizona: 37

Arkansas: Pine Bluff

  • Poverty rate: 24.9% (Arkansas: 16.2%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 9,133 (Arkansas: 475,729)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 19.6% (Arkansas: 11.0%)
  • Median household income: $39,411 (Arkansas: $56,335)
  • No. of cities considered in Arkansas: 19

California: Oildale

  • Poverty rate: 29.1% (California: 12.1%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 10,057 (California: 4,685,272)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 32.6% (California: 10.3%)
  • Median household income: $45,976 (California: $91,905)
  • No. of cities considered in California: 299

Colorado: Pueblo

  • Poverty rate: 20.6% (Colorado: 9.6%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 22,155 (Colorado: 540,105)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 24.4% (Colorado: 7.6%)
  • Median household income: $52,794 (Colorado: $87,598)
  • No. of cities considered in Colorado: 33

Connecticut: Hartford

  • Poverty rate: 26.9% (Connecticut: 10.1%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 30,538 (Connecticut: 355,692)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 36.6% (Connecticut: 11.4%)
  • Median household income: $41,841 (Connecticut: $90,213)
  • No. of cities considered in Connecticut: 24

Delaware: Wilmington

  • Poverty rate: 24.3% (Delaware: 11.1%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 16,673 (Delaware: 107,790)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 21.1% (Delaware: 10.7%)
  • Median household income: $54,731 (Delaware: $79,325)
  • No. of cities considered in Delaware: 2

Florida: University (Hillsborough County)

  • Poverty rate: 35.2% (Florida: 12.9%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 16,702 (Florida: 2,725,633)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 23.3% (Florida: 13.0%)
  • Median household income: $34,833 (Florida: $67,917)
  • No. of cities considered in Florida: 166

Georgia: Carrollton

  • Poverty rate: 32.1% (Georgia: 13.5%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,648 (Georgia: 1,415,573)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 17.3% (Georgia: 12.1%)
  • Median household income: $46,722 (Georgia: $71,355)
  • No. of cities considered in Georgia: 45

Hawaii: Hilo

  • Poverty rate: 14.8% (Hawaii: 9.6%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 6,917 (Hawaii: 135,941)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 22.2% (Hawaii: 10.9%)
  • Median household income: $75,589 (Hawaii: $94,814)
  • No. of cities considered in Hawaii: 10

Idaho: Pocatello

  • Poverty rate: 14.4% (Idaho: 11.0%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,720 (Idaho: 198,788)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 16.5% (Idaho: 8.3%)
  • Median household income: $56,115 (Idaho: $70,214)
  • No. of cities considered in Idaho: 11

Illinois: Danville

  • Poverty rate: 25.4% (Illinois: 11.8%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 6,789 (Illinois: 1,467,893)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 26.9% (Illinois: 13.0%)
  • Median household income: $42,424 (Illinois: $78,433)
  • No. of cities considered in Illinois: 85

Indiana: Gary

  • Poverty rate: 32.2% (Indiana: 12.3%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 22,041 (Indiana: 810,702)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 28.4% (Indiana: 9.0%)
  • Median household income: $36,874 (Indiana: $67,173)
  • No. of cities considered in Indiana: 38

Iowa: Ottumwa

  • Poverty rate: 19.0% (Iowa: 11.1%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 4,665 (Iowa: 343,141)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 21.0% (Iowa: 9.4%)
  • Median household income: $53,085 (Iowa: $70,571)
  • No. of cities considered in Iowa: 17

Kansas: Kansas City

  • Poverty rate: 17.4% (Kansas: 11.6%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 26,682 (Kansas: 329,870)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 13.3% (Kansas: 7.0%)
  • Median household income: $56,120 (Kansas: $69,747)
  • No. of cities considered in Kansas: 14

Kentucky: Bowling Green

  • Poverty rate: 26.6% (Kentucky: 16.1%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 17,693 (Kentucky: 704,758)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 16.4% (Kentucky: 12.6%)
  • Median household income: $47,118 (Kentucky: $60,183)
  • No. of cities considered in Kentucky: 16

Louisiana: Monroe

  • Poverty rate: 35.1% (Louisiana: 18.7%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 15,545 (Louisiana: 842,038)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 26.5% (Louisiana: 16.1%)
  • Median household income: $36,550 (Louisiana: $57,852)
  • No. of cities considered in Louisiana: 18

Maine: Lewiston

  • Poverty rate: 17.8% (Maine: 10.9%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 6,280 (Maine: 145,491)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 22.8% (Maine: 11.7%)
  • Median household income: $54,317 (Maine: $68,251)
  • No. of cities considered in Maine: 4

Maryland: Salisbury

  • Poverty rate: 23.5% (Maryland: 9.3%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,503 (Maryland: 558,567)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 23.8% (Maryland: 10.8%)
  • Median household income: $53,309 (Maryland: $98,461)
  • No. of cities considered in Maryland: 55

Massachusetts: Holyoke

  • Poverty rate: 26.0% (Massachusetts: 9.9%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 9,675 (Massachusetts: 672,361)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 35.4% (Massachusetts: 12.9%)
  • Median household income: $49,007 (Massachusetts: $96,505)
  • No. of cities considered in Massachusetts: 63

Michigan: Hamtramck

  • Poverty rate: 37.7% (Michigan: 13.1%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 10,285 (Michigan: 1,293,164)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 37.4% (Michigan: 12.7%)
  • Median household income: $39,648 (Michigan: $68,505)
  • No. of cities considered in Michigan: 47

Minnesota: Mankato

  • Poverty rate: 22.5% (Minnesota: 9.3%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 9,283 (Minnesota: 516,284)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 9.1% (Minnesota: 7.4%)
  • Median household income: $61,726 (Minnesota: $84,313)
  • No. of cities considered in Minnesota: 42

Mississippi: Meridian

  • Poverty rate: 32.4% (Mississippi: 19.2%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 10,962 (Mississippi: 548,804)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 23.8% (Mississippi: 13.8%)
  • Median household income: $32,797 (Mississippi: $52,985)
  • No. of cities considered in Mississippi: 14

Missouri: Cape Girardeau

  • Poverty rate: 21.6% (Missouri: 12.8%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,942 (Missouri: 766,582)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 12.7% (Missouri: 10.0%)
  • Median household income: $51,671 (Missouri: $65,920)
  • No. of cities considered in Missouri: 29

Montana: Butte-Silver Bow

  • Poverty rate: 15.8% (Montana: 12.4%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 5,282 (Montana: 132,329)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 13.2% (Montana: 8.6%)
  • Median household income: $56,522 (Montana: $66,341)
  • No. of cities considered in Montana: 6

Nebraska: Kearney

  • Poverty rate: 15.1% (Nebraska: 10.4%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 4,821 (Nebraska: 198,466)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 9.4% (Nebraska: 8.0%)
  • Median household income: $66,843 (Nebraska: $71,722)
  • No. of cities considered in Nebraska: 8

Nevada: Winchester

  • Poverty rate: 25.0% (Nevada: 12.7%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 9,328 (Nevada: 389,456)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 22.5% (Nevada: 11.9%)
  • Median household income: $45,709 (Nevada: $71,646)
  • No. of cities considered in Nevada: 14

New Hampshire: Manchester

  • Poverty rate: 11.6% (New Hampshire: 7.3%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 12,996 (New Hampshire: 98,162)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 11.2% (New Hampshire: 6.0%)
  • Median household income: $74,040 (New Hampshire: $90,845)
  • No. of cities considered in New Hampshire: 5

New Jersey: Bridgeton

  • Poverty rate: 32.7% (New Jersey: 9.7%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,430 (New Jersey: 879,179)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 27.0% (New Jersey: 8.5%)
  • Median household income: $44,440 (New Jersey: $97,126)
  • No. of cities considered in New Jersey: 40

New Mexico: Roswell

  • Poverty rate: 23.2% (New Mexico: 18.3%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 10,694 (New Mexico: 378,651)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 28.7% (New Mexico: 18.1%)
  • Median household income: $48,298 (New Mexico: $58,722)
  • No. of cities considered in New Mexico: 11

New York: Monsey

  • Poverty rate: 45.8% (New York: 13.6%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 12,888 (New York: 2,655,662)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 38.5% (New York: 14.6%)
  • Median household income: $49,630 (New York: $81,386)
  • No. of cities considered in New York: 65

North Carolina: Greenville

  • Poverty rate: 25.2% (North Carolina: 13.3%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 20,758 (North Carolina: 1,357,418)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 14.7% (North Carolina: 12.3%)
  • Median household income: $47,485 (North Carolina: $66,186)
  • No. of cities considered in North Carolina: 41

North Dakota: Grand Forks

  • Poverty rate: 16.4% (North Dakota: 10.8%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 9,025 (North Dakota: 80,810)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 6.9% (North Dakota: 6.3%)
  • Median household income: $59,079 (North Dakota: $73,959)
  • No. of cities considered in North Dakota: 7

Ohio: Warren

  • Poverty rate: 35.0% (Ohio: 13.3%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 12,888 (Ohio: 1,526,507)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 28.7% (Ohio: 12.2%)
  • Median household income: $33,296 (Ohio: $66,990)
  • No. of cities considered in Ohio: 59

Oklahoma: Muskogee

  • Poverty rate: 22.5% (Oklahoma: 15.2%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,983 (Oklahoma: 585,991)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 24.1% (Oklahoma: 13.0%)
  • Median household income: $46,825 (Oklahoma: $61,364)
  • No. of cities considered in Oklahoma: 15

Oregon: Eugene

  • Poverty rate: 19.3% (Oregon: 11.9%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 32,873 (Oregon: 494,158)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 16.5% (Oregon: 14.9%)
  • Median household income: $61,481 (Oregon: $76,632)
  • No. of cities considered in Oregon: 25

Pennsylvania: Reading

  • Poverty rate: 28.6% (Pennsylvania: 11.8%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 26,320 (Pennsylvania: 1,482,439)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 40.4% (Pennsylvania: 13.6%)
  • Median household income: $42,852 (Pennsylvania: $73,170)
  • No. of cities considered in Pennsylvania: 23

Rhode Island: Providence

  • Poverty rate: 21.3% (Rhode Island: 11.2%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 37,134 (Rhode Island: 118,033)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 28.1% (Rhode Island: 14.5%)
  • Median household income: $61,365 (Rhode Island: $81,370)
  • No. of cities considered in Rhode Island: 7

South Carolina: Spartanburg

  • Poverty rate: 25.7% (South Carolina: 14.4%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 9,222 (South Carolina: 717,849)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 19.2% (South Carolina: 10.5%)
  • Median household income: $49,140 (South Carolina: $63,623)
  • No. of cities considered in South Carolina: 20

South Dakota: Rapid City

  • Poverty rate: 13.4% (South Dakota: 12.3%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 9,747 (South Dakota: 105,542)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 11.1% (South Dakota: 8.1%)
  • Median household income: $62,784 (South Dakota: $69,457)
  • No. of cities considered in South Dakota: 3

Tennessee: Morristown

  • Poverty rate: 25.7% (Tennessee: 14.0%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,617 (Tennessee: 943,583)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 20.6% (Tennessee: 11.7%)
  • Median household income: $39,547 (Tennessee: $64,035)
  • No. of cities considered in Tennessee: 28

Texas: Kingsville

  • Poverty rate: 33.1% (Texas: 13.9%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 7,817 (Texas: 3,990,326)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 22.2% (Texas: 11.5%)
  • Median household income: $50,963 (Texas: $73,035)
  • No. of cities considered in Texas: 126

Utah: Cedar City

  • Poverty rate: 17.7% (Utah: 8.5%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 6,230 (Utah: 275,188)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 9.1% (Utah: 5.5%)
  • Median household income: $60,778 (Utah: $86,833)
  • No. of cities considered in Utah: 36

Vermont: Burlington

  • Poverty rate: 23.6% (Vermont: 10.4%)
  • Number of people living below poverty line: 8,899 (Vermont: 64,739)
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits: 10.0% (Vermont: 10.3%)
  • Median household income: $64,931 (Vermont: $74,014)
  • No. of cities considered in Vermont: 1

Methodology

To determine the city with the highest poverty rate in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of the percentage of people that live below the poverty line from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.

We considered all places — a category that includes both incorporated legal entities and census-designated statistical entities — with available data and populations of more than 25,000. 

Because the presence of colleges and universities can skew data, we excluded any place where 25% or more of the population were enrolled in undergraduate, professional, or graduate school, except in Vermont, where the only cities with data and a large enough population also had large college and university student populations.

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