Louisiana is known for its diverse culture, history, and natural beauty, but it grapples with significant challenges like hurricanes, coastal erosion, racial disparities, and poverty. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Louisiana had the second highest poverty rate in the country in 2021, at 19.6%.
Poverty impacts individuals from various age groups, races, and backgrounds, but certain cities feel its effects more strongly than others. This article will delve into the five cities in Louisiana with the highest poverty rates in 2019, based on the percentage of people living below the poverty line.
Donaldsonville, a petite town in Ascension Parish, sits on the western side of the Mississippi River. Once the capital of Louisiana, it boasts a vibrant past of sugar cane farming and Creole heritage. Yet, it grapples with economic challenges, facing high poverty and joblessness.
In 2019, Donaldsonville’s poverty rate stood at 38.5%, ranking it as the fifth most impoverished city in Louisiana. The typical household income was $28,125, and the unemployment rate was 11.7%.
Ville Platte, a small city in Evangeline Parish, lies in the heart of Cajun country. It’s famous for its yearly events like the Louisiana Cotton Festival and the Smoked Meat Festival. Nevertheless, it faces challenges with poverty and crime.
In 2019, Ville Platte had a poverty rate of 41.4%, ranking it as the fourth poorest city in Louisiana. The median household income was only $22,500, and the unemployment rate stood at 12.8%.
Opelousas, a mid-sized city in St. Landry Parish, lies to the north of Lafayette. It holds the distinction of being the third oldest city in Louisiana and is known for its lively arts, music, and food scene. Nevertheless, Opelousas grapples with significant challenges, including issues of poverty and corruption.
In 2019, the poverty rate in Opelousas stood at 43.3%, ranking it as the third poorest city in Louisiana. The median household income was $23,333, with an unemployment rate of 13%.
Bastrop, a petite town in Morehouse Parish, sits close to the Arkansas border. In the past, it thrived as an industrial hub thanks to a substantial paper mill that provided jobs for many.
Sadly, in 2008, the mill shut down, leaving the town with a struggling economy and environmental challenges. In 2019, Bastrop faced a high poverty rate of 44%, making it the second poorest city in Louisiana. The typical household earned around $20,833 annually, and unemployment stood at 16%.
Natchitoches is a mid-sized city situated in Natchitoches Parish, nestled alongside Cane River Lake. It holds the distinction of being the oldest enduring settlement in Louisiana, boasting a diverse cultural background shaped by French, Spanish, African American, and Native American influences.
Furthermore, Natchitoches draws numerous visitors due to its array of historical landmarks and vibrant festivals. Nonetheless, it grapples with issues of poverty and inequity. In 2019, the poverty rate in Natchitoches stood at 43.9%, marking it as the most economically challenged city in Louisiana. The median household income was $21,715, while the unemployment rate was notably high at 18.3%.
Here are the five poorest cities in Louisiana based on the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. These cities highlight significant social issues and difficulties that Louisiana is currently grappling with. Yet, they also showcase strong and lively communities that have played a vital role in shaping Louisiana’s diverse culture and history. These communities warrant increased focus, assistance, and resources from both policymakers and citizens.