Despite having the most millionaires and billionaires in the world, hunger, poverty and homelessness are shamefully endemic in the world’s richest and most powerful country. According to the nonprofit Feeding America, every U.S. county has families that suffer from food insecurity. In fact, in 2013, more than 49.1 million Americans did not have access to adequate food, and 45.3 million, mainly women and children, lived in poverty.
Of note, the National Low Income Housing Coalition classifies more than 10 million of those in poverty as “extreme low-income renter households,” more than 75% of whom can barely cover basic needs such as utilities, food and health care after half or more of their income goes to rent. Moreover, at least 580,000 people were homeless on any given night in January 2014 in the U.S., according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Most shockingly, almost a quarter of the homeless population in the U.S. are children.
Research firm WalletHub decided to quantify the issue and produced a report titled “2014’s Cities with the Highest and Lowest Population in Need.”
Top five cities with lowest population in need
Sioux Falls, South Dakota comes out on top of WalletHub’s “2014’s Cities with the Highest and Lowest Population in Need” list, with an economic well-being rank of 1 and a health and safety rank of 7. Overland Park, Kansas was second on the list, with an economic well-being rank of 5 and a health and safety rank of 8. In third place on the list was Madison, Wisconsin, where residents enjoyed an an economic well-being rank of 10th and a health and safety rank of 4th. Plano, Texas came in fifth overall, pulled up by its economic well-being rank of 2nd compared to a health and safety rank of 27th. Lincoln, Nebraska was fifth with a similar pattern of 3rd in economic well-being and a rank of 17th in health and safety.
Bottom five cities with highest population in need
Mobile, Alabama is ranked 145th in WalletHub’s “2014’s Cities with the Highest and Lowest Population in Need” list, with an economic well-being rank of 148 and a health and safety rank of 119. Fresno, California was 146th on the list, with an economic well-being rank of 147 and a health and safety rank of 131. Memphis, Tennessee come in 148th place, with an economic well-being rank of 145 and a health and safety rank of 143. Jackson, Mississippi had the second to highest population in need, with an economic well-being rank of 150 and a health and safety rank of 146. Just emerging from bankruptcy Detroit, Michigan came in dead last at 150th on WalletHub’s list, with an economic well-being rank of 149 and a health and safety rank of 150.
Methodology to determine distribution of poverty
To determine American cities with the highest and lowest populations in need, WalletHub undertook an analysis of the 150 largest U.S. cities across the key dimensions of “Economic Well-Being” and “Health & Safety.” Of note, the former received a heavier weight than the latter given most of the issues needy populations face today result from economic conditions. They then identified 16 specific metrics such as poverty rate, unemployment rate, rate of food insecurity and so forth that are relevant to each dimension.