An estimated 13.3% of residents in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area live below the poverty line, a smaller share than the national poverty rate of 14.7% and roughly similar to the state’s poverty rate of 13.6%. Chicago has the third lowest poverty rate of any Illinois metro area.
A high school education can mean the difference between living above or below the poverty line. Nationwide, the 87.1% of Americans who have at least graduated high school are 1.9 times less likely to be in poverty than those who did not complete high school. In Chicago, adults who graduated from high school are 1.6 times less likely to be in poverty. An estimated 87.9% of adults in Chicago have at least a high school diploma, the fourth lowest high school attainment rate in the state.
The share of metro area residents living in poverty may depend on the health of the local job market. As the national unemployment rate fell from 8.9% in 2011 to 5.3% in 2015, the number of U.S. jobs increased by 9.9 million. In Chicago, however, the 5.3% unemployment rate is higher than the jobless rate nationwide, despite the low poverty rate.
Low poverty often creates the conditions for a low violent crime rate. There were 378 violent crimes per 100,000 Chicago residents in 2015, roughly similar to the national crime rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans.
Living in poverty can have adverse effects on physical and mental health. With lower wages, those living in poverty are less likely to have access to healthy food, opportunities for physical activity, and quality medical care. In Chicago, there are 315 premature deaths per 100,000 residents annually, less than the national premature death rate of 474 per 100,000 Americans.
Poverty is often concentrated along racial lines. Nationwide, 25.4% of African Americans live in poverty, compared to 10.4% of white Americans. Poverty is even more divided along racial lines in Chicago, where 26.8% of African Americans and 7.0% of white residents live below the poverty line.
While poverty tends to be concentrated in certain neighborhoods and districts within a city, a metropolitan area with a low poverty rate tends to have wealthier residents overall. The typical household in the Chicago metro area earns $63,153 annually, higher than both the median household income for Illinois of $59,588, and the median income for all U.S. households of $55,775 nationwide. Chicago has the second highest median household income of any Illinois metro area.
|10||Pine Bluff, AR||25.7%|
|5||Athens-Clarke County, GA||27.1%|
|5||Las Cruces, NM||27.1%|