Another Top-10 List — Poorest Metros in the U.S. 2018

While a rising tide may lift all boats, the same is not true for a good economy bolstering all the local markets across the country.

Good news is that U.S. median household income rose by 0.8 percent in 2018 to $61,937 and the poverty rate fell from 13.4 percent of all households to 13.1 percent.  Bad news is that these gains were not shared equally across the country.

To identify those markets not participating in the economic gains, 24/7 Wall Street examined the 50 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with the lowest median annual household incomes.  Other metrics examined included:

  • Median household income — U.S. Census Bureau
  • Poverty & Educational Attainment – American Community Survey
  • Unemployment Rates – Bureau of Labor Statistics

The table shows those deemed the 10 poorest metros in the U.S. in 2018 by having the lowest median household income.  All are essentially in the South.  It is hard to imagine that one-of-every-five households in Valdosta, Georgia have a median annual household income of less than $10,000 – less than one-sixth of the national level.    Average annual rent alone exceeds that level of income.

To read the entire study including detailed information on the 50 poorest metros in the county click

Unfortunately, just raising the minimum wage does not solve poverty.   Assuming a 2000 hour work year, $15 per hour equates to $30,000 per year gross income for a single-person household.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that while increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour would lift 1.3 million households out of poverty, it would also result in the elimination of 1.3 million jobs.  Hence, from a poverty perspective, raising minimum wage is a zero-sum game.

It is my belief that income is a function of people having marketable skill sets.   If an individual has skills that are valued and sought after, then their income reflects such demand.   Among those aged 25 and up, 35.0 percent of the U.S. population has a Bachelor’s Degree or better.  Many skill sets do not require a college degree, however.   Congress needs to focus on education that grows marketable skill sets in people, and that education is not just available from universities and colleges.

Just my 2 cents.


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