Many cities in the U.S. have never really recovered from the debt carnage that was unleashed on them by the 2008 financial crisis. The formerly prosperous industrial heartlands which were home to many middle-class families now lie in near ruins and areas which have always been poverty-stricken now feel even more hopeless.
The ACS and What It Aims to Do
The U.S. Census Bureau measures poverty status by determining a household’s income threshold. This depends on the ages of the household residents, family size, and the number of children. Given that, poverty levels are higher in areas with incomes that are exceptionally low.
Top 5 Poorest Cities in the U.S.
In December 2014, the Census released its Five-Year American Community Survey (ACS) to assist in the yearly distribution of more than $400 billion, in state and federal funds, to communities all over the country while, at the same time, supplying them with relevant data needed to help in planning services and investments. With this data, an online research group, FindTheBest.com, compiled some of the country’s poorest cities as shown below:
The decline of the American car industry brought down Detroit’s erstwhile economic stability with it. In the early part of 2014, this city declared bankruptcy, the largest American city to do so. There are thousands of abandoned or vacant homes, and communities without the usual amenities and services. Many homes also have no water because they were delinquent on their water bills.
This city is still reeling from the aftermath of a collapsed manufacturing industry with a poverty level that jumped to almost 30% during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Work opportunities are severely missing in Milwaukee where only 22% of its 596,459 population hold a bachelor’s degree and 35.5% have incomes below $25,000 %. It is estimated that 29.9% of its residents are living in poverty.
The City of Brotherly Love has been declared the poorest big city in the U.S. by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Most of the communities in this city have high needs but lesser opportunities compared to the other neighborhoods. The home of the Liberty Bell has the nation’s highest “deep poverty” rate where residents have incomes that are even below half of what the federal government has declared to be the poverty level.
The majority of the 650,932 Memphis residents who are poor are either Hispanic or black with the poverty rates higher for minorities across age categories compared to whites who are non-Hispanic. Memphis has a tax base that’s shrinking and a minimum wage pay that’s even 11% below the nation’s average. The rate of violent crime has also risen in this city that Elvis Presley once called home.
Marshall Vest, director of the University of Arizona’s Economic and Business Research Center, described Tucson as “having very slow economic growth” with a consistently high rate of poverty. According to Vest, employment growth is low and there is little demand for additional retail space, offices or additional housing which has further reduced the growth of Tucson’s construction industry and other related industries.