This Montana City Has Been Named the Highest Poverty Rate in the State

Poverty Peaks: This Montana City Tops State’s Poverty Rankings

The natural beauty and abundant resources of Montana should not overshadow the economic challenges faced by many urban residents. Montana’s poverty rate in 2019 was 12.6%, slightly higher than the 11.6% national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

However, there are significant differences in poverty rates throughout the state’s cities, with some facing significantly worse economic conditions than others.

Stacker used information from the U.S. Census Bureau to create a list of Montana cities where the majority of people live below the poverty line. The list is ranked by the percentage of people living below the poverty line in 2019 for cities with a population of at least 10,000.

The City With the Highest Poverty Rate in Montana

With 17.8% of its citizens living below the poverty line, Bozeman has Montana’s highest rate of poverty. Montana State University is based in Bozeman, the fourth-largest city in the state.

Compared to the state average of $60,834, the city’s median family income is lower at $57,411.

The high percentage of poverty in Bozeman might be attributed to the high expense of life, particularly housing. Rent and real estate prices have increased in the city due to recent rapid population growth and a housing shortage.

In January 2024, the median home value in Bozeman was $669,900, up 18.9% from the previous year, according to Zillow.

This Montana City Has Been Named the Highest Poverty Rate in the State

Other Cities With the Highest Poverty Rate

With 17.5% of its citizens living below the poverty line, Missoula has Montana’s second-highest poverty rate. The University of Montana is located in Missoula, the second-largest city in the state. The typical household income in the city is $51,022, which is less than the average for the state.

Regarding the availability and affordability of housing, Missoula and Bozeman confront comparable difficulties. In January 2024, the median home value in Missoula was $462,300, a 19.2% increase from the previous year.

Butte-Silver Bow (balance) has the third-highest poverty rate in Montana, with 17.3% of its citizens living below the federal poverty level. The ancient mining town of Butte and its environs are combined to form the city-county of Butte-Silver Bow.

This Montana City Has Been Named the Highest Poverty Rate in the State

The city-county has the lowest median household income of any city on the list, at $49,065. Although mining, particularly of copper, has a long history in Butte-Silver Bow, it has drastically decreased since the 1980s, leaving behind both economic and environmental issues.

The county’s efforts to draw in new firms and citizens and diversify its economy have been hampered.

Great Falls (14.7%), Helena (14.4%), Kalispell (13.3%), and Billings (10.0%) are the other cities on the list. Although these cities’ rates of poverty are lower than those of the top three, they are still higher than the national and state averages.

Additionally, their median household incomes—which range from $51,692 in Helena to $59,656 in Billings—are lower than the state average.

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To Conclude

The poverty situation in Montana is more complex than a straightforward state average might suggest. Although the overall poverty rate is slightly higher than the national average, there are significant variations among its cities.

Bozeman, Missoula, and Butte-Silver Bow stand out with poverty rates exceeding 17%. These areas, known for their colleges and historical ties to mining, are grappling with challenges such as soaring housing costs, sluggish median incomes, and broader economic difficulties.

The issue extends beyond these top three cities, as major urban centers like Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Billings also face poverty rates higher than the national and state averages. While these rates may be lower compared to the top three, they collectively underscore a pervasive problem that requires attention.

Addressing urban poverty in Montana calls for a comprehensive approach. Initiatives like affordable housing, economic diversification, and targeted support programs for vulnerable populations are crucial.

By recognizing the issue, understanding its complexities, and implementing effective solutions, the state can work towards a more equitable future where prosperity is shared more evenly across its cities.