The 7 Poorest Capital Cities in the United States

Written by Zoe Carina
Published: November 29, 2023
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Unfortunately, we live in a crushing capitalist society. We must toil daily to prove ourselves worthy of food, housing, and medicine. Because of the inherent inequality baked into capitalism, some places are poorer than others.

This is especially true within the United States, where the few greedily hoard wealth at the expense of the many. Due to racist institutions and infrastructures, states built to work for the wealthy, and the violent destruction of any alternatives, capitalism is parasitically planted within each state.

Some states have more wealth than others, reflected in their capital cities. Here are the poorest capital cities in the U.S., based on data from 2021 and 2022.

1. Hartford – Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford is the poorest capital in the U.S.

©iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto

The capital city of Connecticut is not only one of the state’s oldest cities but also one of the poorest. The state is among the country’s richest, concentrated in predominantly white suburbs and cities.

The federal poverty rate for the city is 27.1%.

In 2018, the state of Connecticut bailed out its capital city to save it from poverty. Even after this, Hartford is struggling to reach financial stability. The multi-year flow of many residents and businesses out of the city continually weakens the economy.

A larger percentage of the city workforce are personal-care aides and retail salespeople. Capitalism arbitrarily deems these positions less worthy of money, so the city’s capital steadily declines.

2. Tallahassee – Florida

Blue Sky Behind White Clouds Over the State Capitol of Florida in Tallahassee

The history of Tallahassee is rife with racism.

©Blue Sky Behind White Clouds Over the State Capitol on Florida in Tallahassee/Shutterstock.com

The capital city of Florida is Tallahassee. Tallahassee sits on the panhandle and is landlocked. Florida State University and Florida A&M University are within the city limits, and the high student population contributes to the poverty rate.

The federal poverty rate for the city is 24.3%.

Tallahassee has a largely fluctuating population that increases during the school year and diminishes during holidays. Many students work part-time but go back home over the break. After graduating, most decide to leave the city.

Graduated students aren’t the only ones leaving Tallahassee, and this causes a sharp imbalance between open positions and people seeking work. Capitalism does not simply let people in Tallahassee live. Instead, it forces them to find jobs that are, in most cases, useless.

3. Columbia – South Carolina

Two palm trees growing outside of a brick building in Columbia, South Carolina.

Half of Columbia, South Carolina’s adult population holds a bachelor’s degree.

©Bonita R. Cheshier/Shutterstock.com

Among the poorest capitals in the U.S., Columbia ranks third. The city houses the University of South Carolina. Because most students either do not work or only work part-time, the city has a lower household income than other places in South Carolina.

The city’s federal poverty rate is 22.5%.

Full-time workers do not make living wages in the city, so many leave if possible. For those who stay, affordable housing is usually in the city’s outskirts and far from their places of work.

Because capitalism does not see housing as the basic human right that it is, many of these full-time workers in Columbia live without secure housing.

4. Providence – Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island Skyline

The median household income in Providence is about $30,000 less than Warwick, a city close by.

©SeanPavonePhoto/iStock via Getty Images

The capital city of Rhode Island, Providence, is also the country’s poorest. The city has one of the highest concentrations of poverty in the United States.

The federal poverty level of the city is 22.1%

Providence is home to Brown University, and the student body is one of the reasons that the median household income is lower than other places.

The city does not provide sufficient resources to its poor and instead packs them together in highly lacking communities. Providence, and Rhode Island in general, have enough resources to provide for everyone. However, they are hoarded by the wealthy white folks. These rich families violently accumulated the resources at the expense of native folks.

5. Richmond – Virginia

Richmond, Virginia, USA Downtown Skyline

The median household income was $54,795 in 2021.

©Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

Richmond, Virginia, ranks fifth among the poorest capitals. At least 40% of the city’s residents live below the poverty level, which is the highest in the state, according to 24/7 Wall Street.

The city’s federal poverty rate is 21.1%.

6. Lincoln – Nebraska

Lincoln - Nebraska, Nebraska, Urban Skyline, City, USA

The city is named after the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

©iStock.com/Jacob Boomsma

Though it’s the capital of Nebraska, Lincoln holds a lower salary than the state median. Despite this, and due to the unforgiving nature of capitalism, housing prices are high. The unemployment rate is also high in the city.

The federal poverty rate of this city is 13.9%.

Capitalism bakes failures into itself through recessions to concentrate the wealth into fewer and fewer hands. Because of this, the United States had a great recession from 2007 to 2009. Most Lincoln families live below the levels of income they had before the recession.

7. Honolulu – Hawaii

Hawaii has one of the most expensive and discriminatory housing markets in the country.

©Maridav/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

The capital city of Hawaii has one of the lower poverty rates in the state, but the population still struggles to make ends meet. A huge part of this is due to white colonizers pricing out natives and taking opportunities from them.

The federal poverty rate for this city is 12.9%.

While Hawaii offers a few assistance programs, many cannot afford the skyrocketing housing prices, food, and medical care. The colonial and destructive tourism industry is the main cause of this.

Summary of the 7 Poorest Capital Cities in the U.S.

CityStatePoverty Rate (National)
HartfordConnecticut27.1%
TallahasseeFlorida24.3%
ColumbiaSouth Carolina22.5%
ProvidenceRhode Island22.1%
RichmondVirginia21.1%
LincolnNebraska13.9%
HonoluluHawaii12.9%

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ralf Geithe/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Zoe Carina is a writer at A-Z Animals who primarily covers plants, animals, and places around the world. Zoe has been a professional copywriter and freelancer for six years and holds a bachelors degree in communications from Florida State University, which they earned in 2019. A resident of Oregon, Zoe runs a blog called Intuitive Traveler, where they write about traveling and language learning.

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