The 15 Poorest Cities in America


When it comes to cities in America, huge disparities exist. Some are doing much better financially than others. There are a lot of cities today that are struggling economically and coming up short in a few areas.

WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 28 key indicators of economic disadvantage, such as child poverty, food insecurity and uninsured rates.

Detroit, MI

Detroit, Michigan, USA downtown skyline from above at dusk.
Image Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

Since the departure of so much of the country’s automotive manufacturing, Detroit, MI, has been in decline. It’s now the poorest city in the country, with the most people in need, the worst economic situation, and one of the country’s lowest ratings of health and safety.


Brownsville, TX

USA, Texas, Brownsville. Resacas are former channels of the Rio Grande. They provide habitat for variety of birds, reptiles, mammals.
Image Credit: Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.

Like a lot of border towns, Brownsville, TX, is economically disadvantaged. With so many resources needed near the border, it’s no wonder that the city ranks so poorly among U.S. cities.


Gulfport, MS

Gulfport, Mississippi
Image Credit: GagliardiPhotography/Shutterstock.

Sitting right on the Gulf of Mexico, Gulfport has a lot going for it. However, it also has a high rate of poverty. Among the residents of Gulfport, more than 25% live in poverty right now.


Cleveland, OH

Cleveland, Ohio, USA downtown city skyline on the Cuyahoga River at twilight.
Image Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

Cleveland has a lot to see and do, but it’s also financially struggling. The city ranks low in health and safety, and there is a lot of poverty in the city. It’s a difficult place to live for many people.


Laredo, TX

Cathedral of San Agustin on the Plaza in Laredo, Texas.
Image Credit: Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.

Another border town, Laredo, TX, is a place that doesn’t have many resources for residents. About 22.4% of the Laredo population is living in poverty.


Jackson, MS

Jackson, Mississippi, USA skyline over the Capitol Building.
Image Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

Jackson, MS, suffers from much of what the rest of the state does- there just isn’t much there. There aren’t any major draws job-wise, and the population is highly rural.


Corpus Christi, TX

Corpus Christi Texas Skyline view of City harbor bridge in background with many rows of piers filled with boats and sailboats and yachts across the summer vacation landmark getaway
Image Credit: Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock.

Corpus Christi is another Texas town that isn’t fairing well. However, the city does have above-average schools and many things to do.


Little Rock, AR

Little Rock, Arkansas, USA skyline on the river at twilight.
Image Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

The high crime rate and few resources available in Little Rock have led to many people fleeing the city. With a higher-than-average poverty rate, it isn’t getting any better at the moment.


Augusta, GA

Augusta, Georgia, USA downtown skyline on the Savannah River.
Image Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock.

In Augusta, GA, about 15% of the population is below the poverty line. While the city is scenic and has many amenities, the poverty rate is among the country’s highest.


Fresno, CA

Aerial view of downtown Fresno, California, USA.
Image Credit: Matt Gush/Shutterstock.

There are a lot of smaller cities in California that aren’t doing well. The burden of an influx of immigrants has strained resources, and more than 20% of people in the city are below the poverty line.


New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA street cars.
Image Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

New Orleans gets a high number of tourists and tourist dollars, but much of the population lives in poverty. About 23% of this lively city’s residents live in poverty.


Fort Smith, AR

Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA - October 15, 2022: The old Immaculate Conception Church.
Image Credit: Roberto Galan/Shutterstock.

There isn’t much around Fort Smith, and there aren’t a lot of jobs. The city suffers from being highly rural and having about 20% of the people there under the poverty line.


Birmingham, AL

Birmingham, Alabama, USA - September 9, 2023: An exterior photo of the 1912 John A. Hand Building in Birmingham, Alabama, also known as the American Trust and Savings Bank Building.
Image Credit: Rustboi/Shutterstock.

This city once had a booming steel industry that kept the city booming. With much of that industry now gone, the city has suffered ever since.


Shreveport, LA

Shreveport, Louisiana, USA downtown skyline on the Red River.
Image Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

More than 21% of the residents in Shreveport, LA, are living in poverty. The state of Louisiana has been economically depressed for a long time, and many cities like Shreveport have suffered because of it.


Los Angeles, CA

Cloudy day of Los Angeles downtown skyline and palm trees in foreground.
Image Credit: Chones/Shutterstock.

With the largest homeless population in the country, Los Angeles has a lot of people in poverty. The cost of living has skyrocketed in L.A., making it harder for people to get by.

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Vietnam Vet With Rough Beard Looking Up With American Flag Background.
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Author: Lizz Shepherd


Lizz Shepherd is a freelance writer living in Alabama.