Cleveland ranks 1-2-3 in poverty

Among the largest U.S. cities, Cleveland is worst in child poverty, second for working-age adults and third in older-adult poverty, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week. Cleveland and Detroit are the only two cities that are in the bottom 10 for all three age groups.

Cleveland is worst in child poverty, second for working-age adults and third in older-adult poverty

Cleveland was the only city in the U.S. with a population of more than 250,000 where more than half the children lived in poverty in 2018. The 2018 one-year estimate of 50.5 percent of Cleveland’s kids living in poverty is more than two points higher than the 2017 estimate of 48.7 percent. We can’t say for certain that child poverty got worse, because the change is not statistically significant, but Cleveland remained dead last.


Poverty Rate by Age in Cleveland   
Children (Under Age 18)Working Age (18-64)Older Adults (65+)

The high rates of child poverty contribute to the fact that for years, Cleveland has been the second poorest large city in the country, just behind of Detroit. The overall poverty rate did not change between 2017 and 2018, remaining at 33.1 percent. But that doesn’t mean that things stayed the same for everyone. The poverty rate for adults older than age 65 got worse, climbing by 2.7 percent, the biggest jump of any age group. On the other hand, things may have gotten a bit better for working-age adults between 18 and 64. None of these changes are statistically significant, so time will tell if the 2018 figures are a blip or the beginning of a concerning trend for both young and old in Cleveland.

The poverty rate for adults older than age 65 got worse

Ohio is the only state with more than one city in the top 10 poorest large cities, and we have three – Cincinnati ranks sixth and Toledo is seventh.

Ten Worst Large U.S. Cities, Overall Poverty  
1Detroit, Michigan33.4%
2Cleveland, Ohio33.1%
3Buffalo, New York30.1%
4Memphis, Tennessee27.8%
5Laredo, Texas25.9%
6Cincinnati, Ohio25.2%
7Toledo, Ohio25.0%
8Milwaukee, Wisconsin24.9%
9Newark, New Jersey24.6%
10Philadelphia, Pennsylvania24.5%

Ten Worst Large U.S. Cities, Child Poverty  
1Cleveland, Ohio50.5%
2Detroit, Michigan47.3%
3Buffalo, New York45.2%
4Memphis, Tennessee44.9%
5St. Louis, Missouri38.9%
6Cincinnati, Ohio37.0%
7Newark, New Jersey36.0%
8Milwaukee, Wisconsin35.5%
9Toledo, Ohio35.3%
10Laredo, Texas34.9%

Ten Worst Large U.S. Cities, Working Age Poverty  
1Detroit, Michigan30.6%
2Cleveland, Ohio29.6%
3Buffalo, New York27.5%
4Memphis, Tennessee23.4%
5Toledo, Ohio23.4%
6Cincinnati, Ohio23.1%
7Philadelphia, Pennsylvania22.6%
8Milwaukee, Wisconsin22.1%
9Lubbock, Texas22.0%
10New Orleans, Louisiana21.9%

Ten Worst Large U.S. Cities, Older Adult Poverty  
1Miami, Florida30.4%
2Laredo, Texas27.6%
3Cleveland, Ohio22.0%
4Detroit, Michigan21.0%
5New Orleans, Louisiana20.2%
6Atlanta, Georgia20.1%
7Jersey City, New Jersey19.6%
8El Paso, Texas18.9%
9New York, New York18.7%
10Boston, Massachusetts18.2%