In the economic landscape of the United States, disparities in wealth and prosperity are evident in the varying fortunes of cities across the nation. While some cities thrive and boast impressive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures, others struggle with economic challenges that leave them among the poorest in the country.
In this article, we delve into the data to present an extensive list of the 100 poorest cities in America based on their GDP. Join us as we shed light on the economic struggles faced by these communities and explore the factors contributing to their current economic status.
100 Poorest Cities in America By GDP
1. Detroit, MI
According to World Population Review, Detroit, Michigan, has the lowest median income of any major city in the United States, at just $27,838, and is considered the poorest city in America. Detroit has the worst poverty rate in the country (37.9%) and the highest unemployment rate (19.8%) in the country (more than five times the national average).
The metropolis of Detroit dominates Michigan, the largest state in the Midwest. The Detroit Industry Murals, painted by Diego Rivera in the neoclassical Detroit Institute of Arts, are a local icon, as they were inspired by the city’s ties to the car industry and helped earn Detroit the moniker of “Motor City.” Hitsville, U.S.A., the original home of Motown Records, is located in Detroit and showcases the label’s Grammy Award-winning heritage.
There are more than 5.9 million people, 2.6 million people actively employed in the economy, and around 347,000 enterprises in the ten-county metro area that includes Detroit, Michigan.
The six-county Metropolitan Statistical Area that includes Detroit is home to about 4.3 million people, generates $200.9 billion annually in the gross metropolitan product, and employs around 2.1 million people. There are around 3.9 million people living in the metropolitan area of Detroit. A PricewaterhouseCoopers research from 2005 predicted a GDP of $203 billion for the Detroit metropolitan area.
One-fifth of Detroit’s workforce, or about 180,500 employees, is based in the central business district. Metro Detroit is largely responsible for Michigan’s rising prominence in burgeoning technology sectors like life sciences, IT, and advanced manufacturing; the state employs 568,000 people in the high-tech sector, including 70,000 in the car industry, and ranks fourth in the U.S.
Statewide, Michigan’s research and development spending consistently places it in the top four of all 50 states. Jobs in the fields of architecture and engineering can be found in plenty in the Greater Detroit Area. When it comes to American vehicle production, Detroit and its surrounding area are unrivaled.
One out of every ten employees in the United States is directly or indirectly tied to the production, sale, or use of new motor vehicles, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in 2003.
2. Cleveland, OH
Ohio‘s county capital, Cleveland, is also the largest city in the state and one of the poorest cities in US. It is about 60 miles west of Pennsylvania and is located in the northeastern portion of the state on the southern side of Lake Erie, across the United States maritime border from Canada.
Healthcare, banking, finance, education, insurance, manufacturing, sports, and technology constitute the backbone of Greater Cleveland’s varied economy. More than 2 million people call the Cleveland metro region home, making it the 33rd biggest in the United States.
3. Dayton, OH
Situated in western Ohio is the city of Dayton. The National Museum of the United States Air Force is found in this city. One can see a Wright Brothers plane, as well as 19th-century structures and vintage railways, at Carillon Historical Park. The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery features interactive science displays and a petting zoo for children. Dayton Art Institute features exhibits of world-class art.
Dayton, Ohio, is strategically located within 500 miles (800 km) of nearly 60% of the United States population and manufacturing base, making it a key node for the logistics industry. Industrial, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering are just a few of the other branches of engineering that have seen substantial development in Dayton, leading to several technical advances.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s prominence in the area is a major factor in the area’s propensity for innovation. Since the demise of the city’s heavy manufacturing industry, Dayton’s businesses have expanded into the insurance, legal, healthcare, and government service sectors.
Healthcare, along with defense and aerospace, is a major contributor to Dayton’s economy. The Greater Dayton area’s hospitals contribute an estimated $3.2 billion annually to the economy and employ roughly 32,000 people.
Premier Health Partners, a hospital network, is anticipated to inject almost $2 billion annually into the local economy through its operations, payroll, and capital investments. According to HealthGrades, Dayton was the third-best U.S. city for healthcare quality in 2011.
Dayton is especially well-known in the aviation world because it was here that Orville Wright was born. Some other notable natives include poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and businessman John H. Patterson. Dayton is well-known for its numerous patents, innovations, and innovators; the Wright brothers’ development of powered flight is perhaps the city’s most well-known innovation.
Dayton, Ohio, was one of America’s top 100 cities in 2007. Site Selection magazine named Dayton the top mid-sized metro area in the United States for economic development in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2010, Dayton was also recognized as one of the finest U.S. cities for recent college grads to find employment.
Fifteen tornadoes hit the Dayton area on Memorial Day of 2019, making it one of the hardest-hit areas in the country. One was a devastating EF4 that ripped through the center of the city and was half a mile wide (700 meters)
4. Hartford, CT
The state capital of Connecticut is Hartford. The Mark Twain Museum and House can be found there. There are thousands of relics in the 1874 mansion, including the desk at which Twain penned several of his most famous writings.
There is a Victorian home with period furnishings and a garden at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has an extensive collection that spans from the Renaissance to the Impressionist era.
For a number of years after the American Civil War, Hartford ranked as the wealthiest city in the country. The current poverty rate in this city is 3 out of every 10 families, making it one of the poorest in the United States. In stark contrast, in 2015, the Greater Hartford MSA rated just 32nd out of 318 MSAs for total economic output and 8th out of 280 MSAs for per capita income.
Hartford has earned its moniker as the “Insurance Capital of the World” for good reason. The city is home to the headquarters of numerous insurance companies, the primary economic driver of the state. The service, academic, and medical sectors are also highly visible. Hartford’s Knowledge Corridor Economic Partnership handles several regional development issues shared by the cities of Hartford and Springfield.
5. Rochester, NY
Rochester, New York, is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Near the High Falls on the Genesee River are a collection of dilapidated factories. The Strong National Museum of Play is based around a massive collection of toys and dolls.
The early 1900s estate of Kodak’s creator, George Eastman, now houses a museum dedicated to his life’s work and legacy, including photographic displays, film archives, and landscaped gardens. There are interactive exhibits and a planetarium at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.
Technology and education have been the backbone of Rochester’s economy (aided by a highly educated workforce, research institutions, and other strengths born in its past).
While the city did experience population loss as a result of deindustrialization, it was much less severe than in most Rust Belt metro areas thanks to strong growth in the education and healthcare sectors bolstered by elite universities and the slower decline of bedrock companies like Eastman Kodak and Xerox (as opposed to the rapid fall of heavy industry with steel companies in Buffalo and Pittsburgh).
After New York City and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, the Rochester metropolitan area has the state’s third-largest regional economy. When compared to Albany and Syracuse, Rochester’s GDP is $50.6 billion more, although it still trails Buffalo.
6. Newark, NJ
New Jersey’s largest airport is located in Newark, the state capital. Big-name concerts, dance performances, and other productions can be seen at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). Paintings and sculptures by American artists are among the many on display in Newark Museum. There are walking trails, lakes, and a plethora of cherry trees at Branch Brook Park. Construction on the massive Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart began in 1898 and continued for decades.
Newark is the largest employment center in the state, with more than 100,000 individuals making the daily drive there for white-collar positions in industries like insurance, finance, import/export, healthcare, and government. There are more than a thousand law firms located there since it is a key courthouse site for federal, state, and county courts.
Nearly 50,000 students study in the city’s colleges, universities, medical schools, and law schools, making it a major educational hub as well. Newark is the most active transshipment hub on the East Coast of the United States due to its airport, seaport, rail facilities, and road system.
Newark may not be the industrial powerhouse it once was, but the city is still home to a sizable manufacturing sector. Many companies, such as the massive Anheuser-Busch plant that opened in 1951 and distributed 7.5 million barrels of beer in 2007, have sprung up in the southern part of the Ironbound, also known as the Industrial Meadowlands, since World War II. Rail transport delivers grain to the terminal.
The manufacturing sector, long Newark’s main economic engine, is being eclipsed by the service sector, which is experiencing fast expansion. More than 17,000 people in Newark’s workforce were employed in the transportation industry in 2011.
The Newark headquarters of NJ Transit is the third largest insurance hub in the United States, after New York City and Hartford, Connecticut. Numerous insurance companies, including Prudential Financial, Mutual Benefit Life, Fireman’s Insurance, and American Insurance Company, got their starts in Newark; Prudential, in particular, maintains its headquarters there.
IDT Corporation, NJ Transit, Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), Manischewitz, Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey, and Edison Properties are just a few of the numerous organizations that call the city home for its headquarters.
Millions of dollars were invested in Downtown development through public-private partnerships after Cory Booker was elected mayor, but underemployment is still a major problem in many parts of the city.
Newark’s poverty rate hasn’t gone down, and it’s always been a concern here. Approximately one-third of the city’s residents were living in poverty as of 2010.
7. Jackson, MS
Jackson serves as the state capital of Mississippi. Several important stops along the Mississippi Freedom Trail, which commemorates the state’s role in the civil rights movement, may be found within the city limits of Jackson. The historic Medgar Evers house and the Mississippi State Capitol are two examples. There is an aquarium and hiking paths at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in the verdant LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.
Several large businesses call Jackson, Mississippi, home. Products in this category include anything that is either electrically or mechanically powered, as well as processed foods, raw and finished metals, and electrical and mechanical components. Livestock, soy, cotton, and poultry farming are all flourishing in the region.
Employment in the medical field is Jackson’s mainstay. The city is home to several of Mississippi’s largest, most prestigious, and most technologically sophisticated hospitals.
The Fondren District to the north of Downtown Jackson is home to a substantial medical corridor that includes St. Dominic Memorial Hospital, Mississippi Baptist Medical Center, G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
8. Syracuse, NY
Located in New York, Syracuse is a major metropolitan area. The Erie Canal Museum, established in the Weighlock Building in 1850, is located here. The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology (MOST) is housed in the historic state armory and features hands-on displays and a planetarium. The Everson Museum of Art was designed by I.M. Pei and features works by American artists. The Landmark Theatre, a lavish 1920s venue, is where you can see Broadway shows and concerts.
About 650,000 people call the greater Syracuse area home. It’s located in the middle of New York State. Little progress has been made in the area in terms of population or employment during the past few decades.
Historically, manufacturing was the backbone of the economy of Syracuse, as it was in much of upstate New York; large businesses included names like Carrier, General Electric, and Lockheed Martin.
Despite its continued significance, the service industry is now the primary driver of job growth in the area. The education and healthcare industries, in particular, have been a stabilizing factor, with Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University now being the two largest employers in the region.
9. Birmingham, AL
Jefferson County is the most populated county in Alabama, and Birmingham serves as its county seat, one of the poorest cities in US. Birmingham’s population was estimated to be 197,575 in 2021, down 1% from the previous count in 2020; this would place it as Alabama’s third-most populous city, after Huntsville and Montgomery.
In 2020, 1,115,289 people lived in the greater Birmingham metropolitan area, making it the most populated metro region in Alabama and the 50th most populous in the United States. The cities of the Deep South, Piedmont, and the Appalachians all have ties to Birmingham because of their central location in the region.
Birmingham served as the South’s principal industrial hub from its inception until the end of the 1960s. The city of Birmingham, Alabama, gained notoriety as “The Magic City” and “The Pittsburgh of the South” due to its rapid expansion from 1881 to 1920.
Birmingham, like Pittsburgh, was a major producer of iron and steel, and it also played a significant role in the railroading business by producing both rails and railroad cars. When it comes to railroads, the 1860s marked the beginning of Atlanta and Birmingham’s long-standing roles as the Deep South’s two most important centers.
During the second half of the twentieth century, the economy diversified. Manufacturing is still important to the Birmingham economy, but other sectors, including finance, media, transportation, electricity transmission, healthcare, higher education, and insurance, have grown in prominence in recent years.
However, coal mining remains a significant economic activity in the Birmingham area. Birmingham is not just one of the largest banking centers in the United States but also one of the most important business hubs in the Southeastern United States. In addition, six Fortune 1000 businesses, including one in the Fortune 500 (Regions Financial), have their headquarters in the Birmingham region.
10. Springfield, MA
Western Massachusetts is home to Springfield. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a beautiful monument to the sport that sits on the banks of the Connecticut River. The Springfield Museums house an extensive collection of art and artifacts from throughout the world, including works by American artists, as well as displays of science and technology and Asian art. The Incredible Dr. Seuss honors the great children’s author. A military history spanning two hundred years is preserved at Springfield Armory.
The city has grown to become the largest in western New England and the cultural, economic, and media center of the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts, so named for its location in the valley of the Connecticut River.
Springfield is known as “Hoop City” because Canadian James Naismith invented basketball there in 1891 and as “The City of Firsts” because of the many innovations developed there (including the first American dictionary, the first American gas-powered automobile, and the first machining lathe for interchangeable parts).
100 Poorest Cities In United States By Annual Median Household Income
|1||Little River CDP||California||$3,194||82|
|2||Villanueva CDP||New Mexico||$4,638||111|
|3||Nottoway Court House CDP||Virginia||$5,685||137|
|4||Lower Santan Village CDP||Arizona||$5,857||395|
|5||Comerío Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$6,242||4,312|
|6||Anon Raices Comunidad||Puerto Rico||$7,206||122|
|7||Wounded Knee CDP||South Dakota||$7,292||521|
|8||Barceloneta Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$7,897||3,920|
|9||Sabana comunidad||Puerto Rico||$8,687||1,093|
|11||Palmarejo comunidad (Lajas Municipality)||Puerto Rico||$8,839||1,563|
|12||Chula Vista CDP (Cameron County)||Texas||$8,846||486|
|14||Pajonal comunidad||Puerto Rico||$8,889||495|
|15||Valley Ford CDP||California||$8,947||198|
|16||Long Hollow CDP||South Dakota||$9,063||242|
|17||Santa Clara comunidad||Puerto Rico||$9,063||1,037|
|18||Rincon Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$9,107||949|
|19||Whitley City CDP||Kentucky||$9,234||1,231|
|20||Boqueron comunidad (Las Piedras Municipality)||Puerto Rico||$9,238||1,139|
|21||Aguada Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$9,255||2,615|
|22||Sabana Eneas comunidad||Puerto Rico||$9,409||1,204|
|23||Oak Hill town||Alabama||$9,464||11|
|24||Suarez comunidad||Puerto Rico||$9,524||1,931|
|25||Tecolote CDP||New Mexico||$9,538||235|
|27||Upper Santan Village CDP||Arizona||$9,659||391|
|28||Fuig comunidad||Puerto Rico||$10,067||1,108|
|29||Adjuntas Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$10,257||4,302|
|30||South Greenfield village||Missouri||$10,278||131|
|32||El Tumbao comunidad||Puerto Rico||$10,396||1,802|
|33||Sarah Ann CDP||West Virginia||$10,450||262|
|34||Buena Vista comunidad (Humacao Municipality)||Puerto Rico||$10,455||816|
|35||South Acomita Village||New Mexico||$10,500||57|
|36||Maria Antonia comunidad||Puerto Rico||$10,526||1,115|
|37||Naranjito Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$10,532||1,593|
|38||Juncal comunidad||Puerto Rico||$10,608||631|
|39||El Ojo comunidad||Puerto Rico||$10,625||1,329|
|40||Miranda comunidad||Puerto Rico||$10,640||1,717|
|41||Maricao Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$10,667||662|
|42||Pueblito del Carmen comunidad||Puerto Rico||$10,882||692|
|43||White Mesa CDP||Utah||$10,972||132|
|44||Caban comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,039||3,408|
|45||Pole Ojea comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,113||1,644|
|46||Ceiba comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,150||2,524|
|47||Palomas comunidad (Yauco Municipality)||Puerto Rico||$11,156||2,083|
|48||Camuy Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$11,163||3,816|
|49||La Ochenta comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,207||729|
|50||Oak Hill city||Kansas||$11,250||73|
|51||Lomas comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,280||1,253|
|52||Aguadilla Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$11,441||11,581|
|53||Barranquitas Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$11,573||1,945|
|54||La Yuca comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,591||525|
|56||Playita Cortada comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,714||1,273|
|59||Santa Rita CDP||Montana||$11,808||212|
|60||Homestead Base CDP||Florida||$11,824||843|
|61||Morovis Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$11,847||2,198|
|62||San Sebastian Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$11,858||8,614|
|63||Loiza Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$11,889||3,439|
|64||Playa Fortuna comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,960||1,375|
|65||Quebrada comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,964||993|
|66||La Alianza comunidad||Puerto Rico||$11,995||1,793|
|—||Si’ufaga village||American Samoa||$12,000||175|
|67||Allen CDP||South Dakota||$12,083||470|
|69||Vieques comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,147||2,648|
|70||Calzada comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,188||184|
|71||Acietunas comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,215||1,706|
|72||Palmer comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,266||1,108|
|73||Llano del Medio CDP||New Mexico||$12,344||136|
|74||Casa Blanca CDP||Arizona||$12,396||1,189|
|75||Pageton CDP||West Virginia||$12,411||147|
|—||San Antonio village||Northern Mariana Islands||$12,414||1,149|
|76||Playita comunidad (Yabucoa Municipality)||Puerto Rico||$12,448||1,561|
|77||La Playa comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,467||2,349|
|—||Olosega village||American Samoa||$12,500||172|
|79||Organ CDP||New Mexico||$12,500||225|
|80||Tallaboa Alta comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,500||1,934|
|81||Rawls Springs CDP||Mississippi||$12,527||866|
|82||Santa Isabel Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$12,603||6,042|
|83||Corozal Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$12,691||9,203|
|84||Mountain Road CDP||Virginia||$12,791||1,055|
|85||Jobos comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,727||2,132|
|86||Lares Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$12,742||4,615|
|87||Patillas Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$12,748||3,826|
|89||Las Ollas comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,806||1,772|
|92||Ciales Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$12,914||2,276|
|93||Buena Vista comunidad (Arroyo Municipality)||Puerto Rico||$12,957||1,257|
|94||Liborio Negron Torres comunidad||Puerto Rico||$12,966||1,482|
|95||Cidra Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$13,011||5,427|
|96||Matewan town||West Virginia||$13,105||460|
|97||Bajandas comunidad||Puerto Rico||$13,112||747|
|100||Lluveras comunidad||Puerto Rico||$13,141||1,228|
|102||Manati Zona Urbana||Puerto Rico||$13,278||13,130|
|104||Palmas comunidad||Puerto Rico||$13,288||1,135|
United States Economy Today
Since 1871, the United States has had the largest economy in the world. The nominal size of the American economy in 2018 was $20.49 trillion. The economy of the United States is so large (nearly 25% of the total) that it is considered an economic powerhouse.
The United States is one of the wealthiest in the world, yet there is a wide disparity in income, and many communities face problems related to low wages and unemployment.
In the United States, those living in poverty are those who do not have access to adequate financial resources or material goods to maintain a minimum level of living requirements.
The federal poverty threshold is the estimated amount of income before taxes that a family of a certain size must have in order to be considered poor in the United States. For a family of four, the poverty line is set at $25,700 per year. In 2018, the poverty rate in the United States was 11.8% or around 38.1 million people.
Data from the American Community Survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau between 2013 and 2017 was used to determine the poorest cities in the United States. The percentage of unemployed people, the poverty rate, and the income bracket were all taken into account. The 293 U.S. cities with populations over 100,000 were considered.
What Are The Top 10 Poorest Cities In America?
Following are the top 10 poorest cities in America today:
What Is The Poorest City In The United?
The poorest city in the United States right now is Detroit, MI.
What Is America’s Poorest State?
America’s poorest state today is Mississippi.
Where Do The Poor Live In America?
Following are the areas that are predominantly populated by poor people in America:
Mississippi had the highest poverty rate in 2018 (19.7% poverty rate), followed by Louisiana (18.65%), New Mexico (18.55%), and West Virginia (17.10%).
Cities with the Highest Poverty Rates In the United States
Most of these communities have had significant declines in the percentage of their people living below the poverty line during the past five years, which is a positive trend. When comparing the 20 largest cities with the highest poverty rates, only New Haven, Connecticut, had its share of the poor increase from 2014 to 2019, and even that increase was only 0.1%.
Nevertheless, these cities still have concerningly high rates of poverty, ranging from 35.0% in Detroit to 26.2% in Waco, Texas, despite the nationwide decrease in poverty rates.
In most U.S. communities, the percentage of residents living below the poverty line has decreased over the past five years, which is encouraging news. The poverty percentage is shockingly high in many of America’s largest cities, which is bad news.
An average of 17.4 percent of residents in the 50 largest U.S. cities are considered to be living in poverty. This equates to just under 20 percent of the population.
In the United States, cities with populations between 100,000 and 250,000 have the lowest poverty rates. Only in San Jose, California, does less than 10% of the population live in poverty (8.7% in 2019; 11.8% in 2014).
Virginia Beach, which has a population of about 440,000, is another positive outlier because its poverty rate has decreased to 7.3% from 8.3% during the past five years.