Special Report

This Is the City Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty in Massachusetts

There are an estimated 39.5 million Americans living below the poverty line, which, in the lower 48 states, is 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). Living in poverty can have serious consequences and impacts nearly every aspect of life — and those problems can be compounded for those who are facing poverty while also living in very poor neighborhoods.

Residents of poor neighborhoods often struggle with higher crime rates, limited employment opportunities, lower school quality, and poor health outcomes. For those living on poverty level income, each of these factors reduces the likelihood of upward economic mobility.

Nearly one in every four of the 97,700 residents of Springfield, Massachusetts, who live below the poverty line are in high-poverty neighborhoods — where at least 40% of the population live in poverty. Pittsfield is the metro area with the second highest concentrated poverty rate in Massachusetts, and fewer than one in every 10 people living below the poverty line there reside in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Educational attainment rates in Springfield’s poorest neighborhoods are low. Only 62.7% of adults in the city’s 15 high-poverty neighborhoods have a high school diploma and 9.3% have a college degree — compared to 90.0% and 34.1%, respectively, in the rest of the city.

All data used in this story are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. We only considered census tracts, or neighborhoods, with at least 500 people and college or graduate school enrollment below 50%. Metro areas were also excluded if over 25% of the population in tracts or neighborhoods of concentrated poverty were college or university students.

 

Metro area with worst extreme poverty Poor residents in high-poverty neighborhoods Overall poverty rate Overall poverty rate, statewide
Alabama: Tuscaloosa 16.7% 18.2% 16.7%
Alaska: None N/A N/A 10.7%
Arizona: Phoenix 9.9% 13.6% 15.1%
Arkansas: Little Rock 7.8% 15.0% 17.0%
California: Fresno 28.5% 22.5% 13.4%
Colorado: Pueblo 5.9% 18.8% 10.3%
Connecticut: New Haven 12.7% 11.7% 9.9%
Delaware: None N/A N/A 11.8%
Florida: Tallahassee 21.5% 15.8% 14.0%
Georgia: Albany 35.3% 24.2% 15.1%
Hawaii: None N/A N/A 9.4%
Idaho: None N/A N/A 13.1%
Illinois: Danville 20.6% 18.9% 12.5%
Indiana: Muncie 18.7% 17.2% 13.4%
Iowa: Waterloo 9.6% 13.4% 11.5%
Kansas: Wichita 5.7% 13.0% 12.0%
Kentucky: Louisville 11.2% 12.3% 17.3%
Louisiana: Monroe 49.5% 24.2% 19.2%
Maine: Lewiston 13.5% 11.8% 11.8%
Maryland: Baltimore 9.3% 10.0% 9.2%
Massachusetts: Springfield 23.4% 14.8% 10.3%
Michigan: Flint 32.4% 18.9% 14.4%
Minnesota: Duluth 7.9% 13.0% 9.7%
Mississippi: Jackson 21.3% 16.9% 20.3%
Missouri: Cape Girardeau 27.9% 16.4% 13.7%
Montana: Great Falls 19.8% 13.3% 13.1%
Nebraska: Omaha 3.8% 10.3% 11.1%
Nevada: Las Vegas 5.1% 13.7% 13.1%
New Hampshire: Manchester 2.9% 7.8% 7.6%
New Jersey: Trenton 21.3% 11.7% 10.0%
New Mexico: Las Cruces 26.1% 26.3% 19.1%
New York: Buffalo 27.4% 14.0% 14.1%
North Carolina: Goldsboro 12.5% 20.2% 14.7%
North Dakota: None N/A N/A 10.7%
Ohio: Toledo 26.0% 16.0% 14.0%
Oklahoma: Oklahoma City 9.2% 13.7% 15.7%
Oregon: Medford 2.3% 15.5% 13.2%
Pennsylvania: Reading 28.8% 12.0% 12.4%
Rhode Island: Providence 4.0% 12.0% 12.4%
South Carolina: Columbia 7.9% 14.4% 15.2%
South Dakota: None N/A N/A 13.1%
Tennessee: Memphis 24.6% 17.5% 15.2%
Texas: Laredo 46.4% 27.5% 14.7%
Utah: None N/A N/A 9.8%
Vermont: None N/A N/A 10.9%
Virginia: Roanoke 15.9% 12.9% 10.6%
Washington: Yakima 8.5% 17.4% 10.8%
West Virginia: Huntington 14.8% 18.8% 17.6%
Wisconsin: Milwaukee 17.4% 13.1% 11.3%
Wyoming: None N/A N/A 11.0%