What is it like to be poor in one of the biggest economies in the world? Those living in the poorest areas tend to be the cities in which the economy is driven by the agricultural, retail, service and low technology manufacturing sectors. And the numbers prove this. These areas are the anti thesis of places like San Jose and San Francisco in California and Washington D.C. As a matter of fact, the median income of the poorest city is about two and a half times lower than the richest city. Needless to say, there is a large gap between the rich and the poor.
Here are the top ten poorest cities in the United States. Or maybe, the better term is the bottom ten cities.
1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas – $31,077
This city has got it bad. It has the lowest median income in the nation, as they struggle with more than a third of its people living below the poverty line, the highest such rate in the country. More than 37 percent of its population does not have any form of health insurance. They are struggling with a 12 percent unemployment rate, and the value of the houses in this city is the second lowest among metropolitan areas in the country. Nearly a third of these homes are worth less than $50,000.
2. Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas – #32,070
Situated at the southernmost portion of the state of Texas, more than a third of this city’s population lives below the poverty line, with a tenth earning less than $10,000 each year. More than a third does not have health insurance, as well. On the positive side, the value of homes in this city rose a bit, defying the trend experienced by other metropolitan areas.
3. Valdosta, Georgia – $32,446
As recent as five years ago in 2007, the city’s unemployment rate stood at only 4 percent. It has since worsened by leaps and bounds to 9.2 percent. Of the working population, 17 percent is employed in a low-paying retail job. The housing market is a slightly brighter spot, as prices have increased by 12 percent in the five-year period starting 2007. Housing vacancies still remain at 14.4 percent, however. A significant number of homes is also worth less than $50,000.
4. Albany, Georgia – $32,775
A tenth of the city’s population of working age is unemployed. As a result, the poverty level has increased from 21.5 percent in 2007 to 28.4 percent a couple of years ago. Some of those employed do not really have it much better than the unemployed, as more than 11 percent of households earn less than $10,000 each year. Nearly 19 percent of the homes are worth only $50,000 or less, as the median home value in the city is nearly $70,000 less than the national average.
5. Gadsden, Alabama – $33,313
More than a fifth of the city’s population lives below the poverty level, with 9.1 percent of its people of working age currently unemployed. The income of an average household dropped $4,500 in a five-year period starting 2007. Gadsden, however, can take something positive from its housing market. The values of homes in the area have increased by nearly 13 percent, which is equivalent to the fifth largest growth rate for metropolitan areas.
6. Monroe, Louisiana – $34,036
Monroe has a 7.7 percent unemployment rate and a 27.9 unemployment rate. The median income per household has significantly dropped, as a result. Up to 11.4 percent of households earns a meager $10,000 or even less, which is the third largest percentage for all metropolitan areas.
7. Hot Springs, Arkansas – $34,251
More than a fifth of the population of Hot Springs lives below the poverty line. The city also has an 8.3 percent unemployment rate. The $3,000 drop in its median income is also considerably higher than the national average. Around 17 percent of the city’s workforce is employed in low-paying retail companies.
8. Jonesboro, Arkansas – $34,673
The city of Jonesboro has a 7.6 percent unemployment rate, with 22.5 percent of its households living below the poverty line. A lot of manufacturing firms have either been closing or slowing down its operations, as its share in the employment sector has dropped significantly from 16.3 percent to 11.8 percent. Houses in the city are worth $101,500 on the average, though 19.2 percent of all the homes in the area have a value of less than $50,000. Even the housing rental sector has not been spared, as gross monthly rent is only about $601, way below the national average of $871.
9. Cumberland, Maryland – $34,819
With a population of 102,884, the city of Cumberland has an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent. Almost 20 percent of all its households live below the poverty line. Rental market has also suffered, with the median rent at a going rate of only $533, the second lowest figure for all metropolitan areas. Average value of homes in the city amounting to $122,300 is also considerably lower than the national average, a difference equal to around $50,000. Still, home prices have been increasing, with the number of homes valued at less than $50,000 now numbering only at 10.7 percent of all houses in the city, much lower than the previous year’s 13.3 percent.
10. Morristown, Tennessee – $35,027
Roughly a fifth of all households in Morristown are considered poor. The Tennessee city with a population of 137,494 has an unemployment rate of 11 percent, which is actually a slightly better figure from the previous year, but still nowhere near the number from five years ago. The drop in income can be seen not only at the median level; the percentage of households earning more than $200,000 each year declined considerably from 3.9 percent from five years ago to 1.3 percent today. But a recovery in the manufacturing industry is expected to boost the city’s fortunes, as they have the eight highest percentage of people employed by the sector.