Top 10 Poorest City in Massachusetts 2024

poorest city in massachusetts

poorest city in massachusetts

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 01:01 pm

According to recently released Census projections, the median household income in Massachusetts in 2020 was $84,385, making it the third-wealthiest state behind Maryland ($87,063) and New Jersey ($85,245).

According to the American Community Survey’s 5-year projections, Massachusetts ranks tenth in terms of the percentage of its population living below the poverty level. In 2020, 6.8 percent of Massachusetts households had incomes below $24,999, placing the Bay State below the national poverty rate of 9 percent.

Massachusetts is a lovely state, yet economic hardship is a reality in many areas. This list of the poorest cities in the state was constructed using information about each city’s per capita income (the average money generated per person in a given year), median household income, and poverty rate. 

All data comes from the American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for 2009-2013. The status of poverty is determined by the U.S. Census Bureau based on income, household size, and other variables.

Curious to know which areas are not as affluent? Below, we’ve compiled the Top 10 Poorest City in Massachusetts 2024: 

6New Bedford
7Fall River
8North Adams

1) Lawrence

The poorest city in Massachusetts is Lawrence.

Lawrence has traditionally been a multiethnic and cosmopolitan gateway city with a large number of foreign-born people, earning it the nickname “Immigrant City.” 

In 1860, 145 people were killed when the Pemberton Mill collapsed due to dangerous mill conditions. Mid- to late-19th-century immigration to the United States swelled Lawrence’s population with skilled and unskilled workers from a variety of nations. Bread and Roses Strike, also known as the Lawrence Textile Strike, was one of the most significant labor movements in U.S. history.

Unfortunately, Lawrence is one of the poorest cities in the entire United States

2) Springfield

Second on the list of the poorest cities in Massachusetts is the city of Springfield. 

Springfield, the third largest city in Massachusetts and the fourth largest in New England, is a city with numerous characteristics. 

It has been recognized as the “City of Firsts” due to its history of innovation, which includes the first American Armory and military arsenal as well as the first American-made automobile. Springfield may be most known for two other inventions: basketball and “Dr. Seuss” creator Theodor Geisel, also known as “Dr. Seuss.”

However, it’s quite unfortunate that they are still struggling economically. Their per capita income is $18,133, the average household income is just $34,311, and 29.4% are living below the poverty level. 

3) Amherst

Considered as a poor city in Massachusetts is Amherst. 

Located in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, the town of Amherst is a varied, welcoming community that offers several educational and cultural opportunities.

The town, which is home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has a heritage of open, professional, and high-level government services, great education, support for open space and agriculture, and appreciation for its past.

However, Amherst has a central poverty rate of 34.1%, in which the average household income is just $53,191. 

4) Holyoke 

The city of Holyoke is one of the poorest cities in Massachusetts.

It is located just north of Chicopee and Springfield on the Connecticut River. Incorporated as a separate township in 1850, it had been part of West Springfield from 1774 until 1774, when it became a part of Springfield. 

It was named after either Elizur Holyoke, an early settler, or the Reverend Edward Holyoke, president of Harvard University from 1737 to 1769. After 1848, when the first of several dams was constructed across the river, industrialization began. In the latter half of the 19th century, canals were constructed to attract paper and textile manufacturers.

The city’s economy has evolved to include services (particularly healthcare and higher education), publishing, and the production of electrical equipment, lights and lasers, and paper. Nonetheless, around one-fourth of the population lives below the poverty line.

5) Chelsea

Fifth on the list of the poorest cities in Massachusetts is the mystic Chelsea. 

The Massachusetts city of Chelsea is situated in Suffolk County immediately across the Mystic River from Boston. Chelsea was first colonized in 1624, incorporated as a city in 1857, and constituted as a town in 1739.

U.S. city located in Suffolk County in eastern Massachusetts. It is located on the estuary of the Mystic River and is connected to Charlestown by means of a road bridge. In 1739, the 1624 settlement of Winnisimmet was renamed Chelsea, London. The city was devastated by major fires in 1908 and 1973.

The city’s economy was severely impacted by the economic slump of the 1980s, and the state legislature placed Chelsea in receivership in 1991. Approximately one-third of the population is Hispanic, and one-fourth of the population lives below the poverty line. 

6) New Bedford

With its ever-shifting instability, New Bedford lies on the top 10 poorest city in Massachusetts list.

New Bedford, Bristol county, southern Massachusetts, United States, is located 54 miles (87 km) south of Boston at the mouth of the Acushnet River on Buzzards Bay.

Following the demise of whaling, New Bedford moved to the production of cotton fabrics, but the 1920s migration of the textile industry to the American Southeast had a negative impact on the city. 

With the production of electrical equipment and machinery, rubber goods, textiles and clothes, photography supplies, golf balls, and metal items, a diversified economy presently reigns. Services and commerce are also essential. The city continues to be a large fishing port and serves as the Cape Cod region’s primary port for sailing.

7) Fall River

Seventh on the list of the poorest cities in Fall River! 

It is located 18 miles (29 kilometers) southeast of Providence, Rhode Island, on the eastern bank of Mount Hope Bay at the mouth of the Taunton River. 

Freeman’s Purchase, a plot of property purchased from Native Americans in 1659 by Plymouth colonists and occupied in 1686, including its location. 

Originally a part of Freetown, Fallriver was constituted as a distinct municipality in 1803. It reverted (1831) to its original name, derived from the Algonquian word Quequechan, which means “falling water.” 

As early as 1811, abundant waterpower, a great harbor, and a humid environment fostered textile milling in the town, and by 1871, the city had become a leading cotton-textile center. 

Numerous labor strikes occurred there, and its millworkers played an important part in the American labor-union movement. In 1892, the infamous ax-murder trial of Lizzie Borden, who was acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother, was held in Fall River.

Also Read: 10 Richest Massachusetts Towns

8) North Adams

North Adams, a poor city in Fort Massachusetts, was constructed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1745 and destroyed during the French and Indian War the following year. 

Permanent colonization began in the 1770s, when a Quaker colony from Rhode Island came. In 1878, it was separated from Adams and constituted as the town of North Adams. Waterpower from the Hoosic contributed to early industry (including textile milling), and by the mid-19th century, blast furnaces and shoes were also manufactured. 

Midway through the 1870s, the Hoosac (rail) Tunnel was constructed. From 1930 through the mid-1980s, the electronics industry was important. The majority of the city’s employment is now accounted for by services (education, health care, and utilities), retail trade, and printing and engraving.

9) Southbridge

Known as the optical manufacturing capital, the city of Southbridge is actually one of the poorest cities in Massachusetts.

Southbridge has a long history of producing optical equipment, which has earned it the nickname “Eye of the Commonwealth” in reference to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The American Optical Company (“AO”), founded by the Wells family, grew to become the world’s largest maker of ophthalmic products and employed more than 6,000 people at its peak.

10) Brockton

Last on the list as the poorest city in Massachusetts is Brockton!

Native Americans ceded the territory presently inhabited by the city to Myles Standish and John Alden in 1649, and it became part of the Plymouth colony. 

The original farming settlement was a part of Bridgewater until 1821 and was known as North Bridgewater until 1874, when it was renamed for Brockton, Ontario, Canada. By 1865, with the invention of the McKay sewing machine (which enabled the stitching of shoe uppers and soles) and the demand produced by the American Civil War, Brockton had become a major boot-producing center; but, by the 1950s, shoemaking had lost its significance. 

The city, which was among the first to adopt electric street lighting in 1884, was also a pioneer in the use of electric-powered streetcars and created a municipal system of sewage disposal that was widely imitated in 1893.

The economy is predominantly service-based, with hospitals, local government, and retail establishments constituting the top employers. In addition, light manufacturing is crucial. 

The Fuller Museum of Art contains nineteenth- and twentieth-century works by American painters, while the Brockton Historical Society maintains a museum complex. Massasoit Community College is located in this city (1966). Population (2000): 94,304; (2010): 93,810.

There is no denying that each of the cities on this list still offers an abundance of excellent tourist destinations and activities. Are there any unexpected items on this list? Do you believe the data represents your personal experience? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Disclaimer: All data are further expounded from Only In Your State’s “Here Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Massachusetts” article. 

About WR News Writer

WR News Writer is an engineer turned professionally trained writer who has a strong voice in her writing. She speaks on issues of migrant workers, human rights, and more.

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Carolyn T
Carolyn T
1 year ago

So this study is using data from 10-14 years ago (aka “All data comes from the American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for 2009-2013.”) and comparing it to 2020 averages? Why didn’t they use ACS data from like 2014-2019 at minimum? Seems misleading to use data from over a decade ago and say it represents 2023 demographics.

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