Colorado is renowned for its natural splendor, outdoor activities, and overall high standard of living. Nevertheless, not every area within the state shares the same level of prosperity and opportunities. A recent study conducted by the financial news website 24/7 Wall St. highlighted one city in Colorado as the least affluent, and that city is Pueblo.
What Makes Pueblo the Poorest City in Colorado?
24/7 Wall St.’s analysis, using 2019 American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau, revealed that in Pueblo, the median annual household income is $42,902, significantly lower than the statewide median of $75,231.
This indicates that Pueblo residents earn approximately 57% of the average income for Coloradans.
Pueblo faces a considerable economic challenge, reflected in its high poverty rate of 19.8%, more than double the state average of 9.3%.
Approximately one in five Pueblo residents live below the poverty line, set at $26,246 for a family of four in 2019. Notably, Pueblo ranks as the 10th poorest city in the nation among those with populations exceeding 100,000.
The city’s economic struggles are partly rooted in its history as a steel-producing hub, experiencing deindustrialization and job losses during the latter half of the 20th century.
In 2019, Pueblo’s unemployment rate was 5.8%, surpassing the state average of 3.0% and the national average of 3.7%. Additionally, the city has a lower educational attainment level, with only 19.6% of adults holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the statewide rate of 41.2% and the nationwide rate of 32.1%.
Challenges and Opportunities for Pueblo
Pueblo, the poorest city in Colorado, faces numerous challenges, including the need to improve public services, enhance public safety, attract new businesses, and uplift the quality of life for residents.
In 2019, Pueblo recorded a high crime rate, with 1,032 violent crimes and 5,071 property crimes per 100,000 people, surpassing both state and national averages. Additionally, the city has a comparatively low homeownership rate of 55.9%, falling below the statewide figure of 66.0% and the national figure of 64.8%.
Despite these challenges, Pueblo possesses inherent opportunities and strengths that could contribute to overcoming economic difficulties and rejuvenating the community. The city boasts a rich cultural heritage, influenced by a diverse population that includes Hispanic, Native American, Italian, and Slovenian elements.
Pueblo is renowned for hosting the annual Colorado State Fair, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors and spotlighting the state’s agricultural and artistic accomplishments. Moreover, the city offers a relatively low cost of living, with a median home value of $165,900—less than half of the state median of $394,600.
Pueblo also holds promise for economic development, particularly in the renewable energy sector. The city is home to the Vestas wind turbine factory and the Comanche solar farm, indicating potential for growth in this industry.
What Can Be Done to Improve Pueblo’s Situation?
Addressing Pueblo’s status as the poorest city in Colorado is not a lost cause, but it demands collaborative efforts from various stakeholders, including local and state governments, businesses, nonprofits, and residents. Here are some potential strategies and initiatives to uplift Pueblo’s economic and social well-being:
Enhance connectivity, accessibility, and safety by investing in roads, bridges, water systems, broadband, and public transportation.
- Expand early childhood education.
- Increase high school graduation and college enrollment rates.
- Provide vocational training, apprenticeships, and incentives for employers to hire and retain local workers.
- Foster a culture of creativity and risk-taking.
- Provide access to capital and mentorship.
- Facilitate collaboration and networking among entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers.Attract and retain businesses and industries offering high-paying and stable jobs (e.g., health care, technology, tourism, manufacturing).
While Pueblo may currently be the least affluent city in Colorado, there’s no need for it to stay that way. With vision, determination, and collaboration, Pueblo has the potential to overcome its challenges and emerge as a vibrant and prosperous city.