The Poorest Cities in PA


    DISCLAIMER By continuing, you agree that our moving specialist partners may contact you by text message, email, and/or phone (Possibly by auto-dialing or recorded message) to get in touch with you to provide a quote and/or for marketing purposes. You understand consent is not a condition of purchase of movingist. You also agree to the Privacy Policy.

    Pennsylvania or the Keystone State is one of the 13 original colonies of the US nation.

    This rectangular state stretches about 300 miles from east to west and 150 miles from north to south.

    PA the Middle Atlantic State is indeed one of the best places to live in due to several reasons.

    As, the state has everything, from the ornate feats of architecture and sprawling gardens, from museums to art galleries, and from historical buildings to amusement parks. 

    Overall this state has a perfect blend of both cheap and free things to do.

    If you find a perfect job opportunity here (which is a must due to the 4% unemployment rate prevailing in the state), along with a place to live, then; start the process of registering yourself as a Pennsylvanian resident today. 

    But before you decide, where to live, you should be aware that poverty has endured the state with an overall rate of 12.1%.

    There are many poorest cities in PA, such as Johnstown, Chester, Duqusne, and more that you should avoid. 

    Hence, we have curated an article for our readers to help them know about the poor cities of the state that they should evade and the poverty rate in Pennsylvania in such impoverished cities.


    But before we move on to the main details, quickly go through the below-listed table to have a quick review of the 15 cities about whom we are going to discuss later.

    So, do not wait further and get started with this informative piece of composition. 

    CityCountyPopulationPoverty RateUnemployment Rate
    Indiana BoroughIndiana13,97539.3%10.0%
    Mckees RocksAllegheny5,83231.3%9.2%
    Mount OliverAllegheny3,32130%7.1%
    Lock HavenClinton9,77230.9%5.6%
    Briar CreekColumbia67543.24%6.6%
    Clarion BoroughClarion5,27626.4%3.6%
    Arnold CityWestmoreland4,93928.97%10.2%

    Is PA a poor state?

    According to data researched by Rich States Poor, This Keystone State ranks at the 35th position in terms of richness among the 50 US states. 

    Does Pennsylvania have a good economy?

    In terms of the economic outlook the state of Pennsylvania, has been ranked as the 35th state in the nation.

    Also, according to the research of the economic trends of, the Gross State Product of Pennsylvania in the last financial year was $722.4B. This number showed a 0.8% of growth in the last 5 years. 

    What is the poorest city in Pennsylvania?  

    Johnstown is one of the poorest cities in the state with 38.4% of the poverty rate in Pennsylvania

    According to the data collected by, there are about more than 100 poorest cities in the US. Each of them has a low median household income and a high poverty rate.

    But out of 50 promising US states, today here in this exclusively curated article, we would be discussing the 15 poorest cities in PA

    As we all know that PA is the constituent state of the nation. Classified as the Middle Atlantic State, Pennsylvania is one of the great places to live and spend your retirement years in.

    So, without any further ado, let’s get straight to the below-discussed details, and mark up the cities that you should avoid while planning to settle down in the Keystone State. 

    CityMedian Household IncomeMedian House ValuePercentage Living in PovertyPoverty Rate
    Johnstown$ 31,200$ 36,60037%38.4%
    Duquesne$ 37,478$ 51,00040%39.2%
    Reading$ 38,738$ 83,10040%32.7%
    Mckeesport$ 32,042$ 52,40033%31.4%
    Shamokin$ 29,578$ 42,40041%33.2%
    Clarion$ 33,854$ 132,80042%30.6%
    Indiana Borough$ 34,724$ 280,30043%39.3%
    Chester$ 35,751$ 71,30037%31.4%
    Mckees Rocks$ 42,966$ 53,70036%31.3%
    Aliquippa$ 35,688$ 83,10029%34.0%
    Mount Oliver$ 31,890$ 56,90037%30.0%
    Lock Haven$ 36,708$ 132,10042%30.9%
    Briar Creek$ 23,594$ 168,80038%43.24%
    Clarion Borough$ 33,854$ 132,80039%26.4%
    Arnold City$ 35,688$95,30036%28.97%

    Poorest County in PA  

    Most of the reports on poverty in Pennsylvania show a combined statistical report on poverty and average median household income.


    This combined data reflects how badly these factors affect the prosperity of the state and also provides a lens to the lawmakers of PA to amend some changes in policies.

    These policies should concentrate on decreasing poverty and increasing job opportunities which would proportionately affect the average household median income. 

    According to the data collected by, Forest County is one of the poorest areas in the state.

    This is major because of the low median income of $37,106 annually which is less when compared to the statewide median household income, i.e., $56,951 per year.

    Also, the poverty rate in this township was pegged to be at 14.1% and the unemployment rate at 5.0%. 

    If you are thus, planning to settle down in this beautiful state and looking for the most affordable place to build your forever abode in.

    Then, West Mifflin a suburb of Pittsburgh city in Pennsylvania is considered as one of the best and the most affordable place to live in the state.

    Situated just minutes far from the major city, and situated just right picturesque Monongahela River. 

    This township area is home to various traditional amusement parks, good education facilities, a low crime rate, and a good median household income of about $50K.

    Apart from this, the area has affordable housing, where the average rent amounts to $581 and the median value of the home is $93,800. 

    Top 15 Poorest Cities in Pennsylvania  

    Poverty prevails prominently in this northeastern state, thus tearing down the prosperity of Pennsylvania.


    It is quite unfortunate but more than a dozen of communities in this state, have been drowned in poverty.

    Thus more than 30% of the population of this fun state, live in poverty. Many of the families living in this state, just have $25K or even less than that to survive in a family of four for an entire year. 

    From the available data of a popular website,, a place called Chester is considered to be one of the poorest in the entire nation.

    It has a population of just about 25,000 people. The typical household income for a family of four people here is $32,867, whereas the statewide median household income of people here is $63,627.

    Not only this, but the living costs here are also quite less, i.e., a typical home here is worth $70,300. Whereas the average home value in Pennsylvania is $187,500.

    The city of Chester, situated in Delaware County is one of the oldest communities in the state.  

    This Pennsylvania city has an extremely beautiful and natural aura that will surely captivate its spectators.

    But unfortunately, the job opportunities and quality of life of people living here are not so good.

    Thus, we would not recommend anyone who is looking how to move to Pennsylvania to settle down in the city of Chester. 

    Apart from this, we have mentioned below a list of about 15 poorest cities in PA that you should surely avoid once you have made up your mind in settling down in this beautiful ‘Keystone state’. 

    1. Johnstown

    The town of Johnstown situated in Cambria County is home to about 19,500 people. But it is sad to share that out of this number, about 37% of them live in poverty, which amounts to about 7,239 people.

    You must be wondering why is Johnstown PA so poor, with about a 38.4% poverty rate. The major reason for this is that it is a combination of both lack of employment opportunities and low salary. Also, the unemployment rate here is 13.9%.

    The median household income of people here is the lowest and poverty is the 4rth highest in this city of Pennsylvania. The cost of living here is the least in the state. Thus, making housing and other necessary items of reasonable cost in this city. 

    2. Duquesne

    The town of Duquesne is home to about 5,565 people, situated in the Allegheny County of PA. You would be extremely saddened to know that out of this number, about 2,226 people spend their lives in poverty.

    This number comes out to be nearly 40% of the total population of people living in this area of the state. Thus, indeed it is one of the worst cities to live in the state due to its ranking.

    Duquesne has the 6th lowest median household income in the state and also has the 3rd highest poverty and unemployment rates in the nation, i.e., 39.2% and 13.8% respectively. 

    3. Reading

    Reading is the third poorest city in Pennsylvania that has the 10th lowest median household income across the entire nation. Being part of Berks County, this place has around 87,575 people living there.

    Readings Pennsylvania

    But out of so many people there, about 30,030 of them spend their lives in poverty, which amounts to about 40% of the population. The economic quality of this town is somewhat better than the first two mentioned in the list.

    This small city has low living costs but still gives modest salaries to the people working here. Apart from this, the unemployment rate prevailing in this town is 12.9%. 

    4. Mckeesport

    The community of Mackeesport has the 11th highest poverty in Pennsylvania. Being part of Allegheny County, this town of about 19,731 people is the 4rth poorest city in the state.

    Also, the median household income is the 5th lowest in the state with 31.4% as the poverty rate and 12.1% as the unemployment rate. Despite all these rankings, the city conducts various types of cultural events all year round. 

    5. Shamokin

    The city of Shamokin in Pennsylvania is part of Northumberland County, having a population of about just about 7,000 people. This is the fifth poorest city in the state that has the fourth lowest household median income.

    Although the poverty rate prevailing in the state is 33.2%, a significant portion of the population does not lie in this segment due to the low cost of living in the city. 

    6. Clarion

    Being the sixth poorest state with a population of 5,276 people, this small city is situated in Clarion County. This state has the 8th highest unemployment rate of about 12.1% and the 14th highest poverty with a rate of 30.6%. 

    7. Indiana Borough

    With a population of 13,346 people, this small city situated in Indiana County is the seventh poorest city. This city has the second-highest poverty rate in Pennsylvania with a rate of 39.3%.

    The cost of living in this state is extremely low which makes it easier to pay the expenses each month. Despite this, the unemployment rate in this city is 10%, due to which poverty prevails in the state, and about 6,009 lives that.

    8. Chester

    Chester part of Delaware County in Pennsylvania is one of the poorest cities in PA. The major concern of this small city of PA is its unemployment rate, i.e., 12.1%. This rate is the 9th highest in the state, along with the poverty rate which is 31.4%.

    This rate amounts to about 12,573 people in the state living in poverty out of the total population of about 33,988 people. 

    9. Mckees Rocks

    Mckees Rocks with a population of 5,919 is another poor city in the state whose sizable population lives in poverty. The poverty in Pennsylvania in this city rates at about 31.3%, despite having the second-lowest median household income in the state.

    When we see on an overall basis, this city has an overall 12th highest area of poverty in Pennsylvania, with a 9.2% unemployment rate. 

    10. Aliquippa

    Aliquippa, a small town in the Keystone State, is home to about 9,004 residents. The people living here have an extremely low median household income with 9.1% as the unemployment rate and 34% as the poverty rate. 

    11. Mount Oliver

    Mount Oliver, part of the Alleghany County of Pennsylvania, is a small town with about 3,321 people living there. The poverty rate in this city is about 30% which covers about 988 people of the total city population.

    The unemployment rate in the markets of this city is about 7.1%, but the point to note is that it has been seen for the past year that the job market of the city has increased by 0.2%. 

    12. Lock Haven

    Lock Haven, home to about 9,772 people is a part of Clinton County. Out of this population, about 30.9% of the people live in poverty, which roughly amounts to 4,104 people.

    Poorest Cities in Pennsylvania

    But you would be happy to know that the unemployment rate in this city of PA is extremely less, i.e., 5.6%. Apart from this 28% of the population work in the sales sector, and 29% of them in the service occupation sector. 

    13. Briar Creek

    Briar Creek a small town part of Columbia County is home to just about 675 people. This small township area in Pennsylvania has an unemployment rate and poverty rate of 2.6% and 7.9% respectively. 

    14. Clarion Borough

    Clarion Borough located in Clarion County has about 5,276 people residing here. Out of this number, about 1,900 people in the city live in poverty, which rates to about 26.4% of the total population.

    In the past couple of years, the people living here have seen a slight spike in both their population rate and median household income rate. But despite this, the unemployment rate prevailing in the state is; 3.6%.

    15. Arnold City

    Arnold City, part of Westmoreland County, is a beautiful place with about 4,039 people residing there. 28.97% is the current poverty rate of Arnold City which counts to about 1,778 of the total population of the township.

    Job opportunities in this area are not so much as compared to the other best and safest cities in Pennsylvania, thus the unemployment rate here is 10.2%. 

    Poorest city in PA FAQs

    Is Pennsylvania cheap to live in?  

    It is not so cheap to live in the state of Pennsylvania as the average cost of living here is just 2% lower than the national average. 

    What city in Pennsylvania has the most poverty?

    The small city of Johnstown, with a population of less than 20K people, is considered the most poorest and poverty struck area in the state of Pennsylvania. The poverty rate here is about 38.4% among 19,500 residents staying in the state. 

    Is Pennsylvania considered a poor state?  

    Pennsylvania is considered a poor state, as poverty prevails in both the urban and rural settings of the state. According to research conducted by, about 121% of the total state population spends their lives in poverty. This is why the city is considered to be one of the poorest states in the entire nation. 

    What is the best area to live in Pennsylvania?  

    According to the experts, the city of Pittsburgh is considered the best place to live in Pennsylvania. This is major because of the following reasons:

    • Affordable living costs
    • Top-Ranked Universities
    • Thriving art scenes
    • Low crime Rate
    • Eco-friendly environment
    • Convenient working environment
    • Reasonable house prices as well as rents
    • Has top-notch companies that offer great job opportunities  


    Thus, that was all about the detailed article about the poorest cities in PA. Pennsylvania has some struggling areas, like every other state.

    In all these above-mentioned cities, an above-average percentage of the population lives in poverty, is unemployed, and does not earn as much as they should to live a happy and contented life. 

    It might look a little prudent to share about these states with you at the first instance as the economy and the living conditions of people here keep on increasing with every passing year.

    This is just to share with you about the states that are not worth settling in and have a high poverty rate in Pennsylvania.

    So, plan your itinerary today to the Keystone State, without including the above-mentioned states in that.