This Has Been Named the Poorest Town in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is an important part of American history, as it was the birthplace of independence. As one of the original thirteen colonies, it is home to the iconic Liberty Bell, the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, various natural swimming holes, and the busy metropolis of Philadelphia, all of which exemplify a distinct blend of the past and present.

Nonetheless, the designation of “the poorest town in Pennsylvania” changes from year to year as the poverty rate varies throughout multiple communities, demonstrating a dynamic but troubling economic environment. Beyond the famed landmarks and urban vitality, numerous villages in Pennsylvania have faced economic difficulty.

According to the American Community Survey (ACS) five-year forecasts on a number of social, economic, demographic, and housing factors, Pennsylvania’s population is 13,002,700. The typical household income is a comfortable $71,798, with an employment rate of 60.1%.

However, the economic reality is negative for many, as evidenced by the state’s 11.8% poverty rate, with many localities seeing poverty rates twice or triple this amount.

The top five poorest cities in Pennsylvania

RankCityMedian IncomePoverty Rate (%)PopulationEmployment
3Beaver Falls$34,64031.1%9,00552.3%
4McKees Rocks$32,80030.7%5,92049.8%

Which is the poorest town in Pennsylvania?

This Has Been Named the Poorest Town in Pennsylvania

Shamokin is a tiny town in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. This former coal mining town was one of the hardest hit in the United States by the demise of the coal industry, and it has battled to recover economically ever since.

The town has high unemployment and a low median income. It also faces other obstacles, such as a high crime rate, drug misuse, a lack of affordable housing, and an aging population.

Shamokin’s population has declined significantly over time. The population was around 2,191 in the 1850s and reached a peak of roughly 21,204 in the 1920s. However, by 2020, the population had dropped to 6,942.

Are Shamokin’s residents in poverty?

Shamokin City’s median household income is $30,711 per the American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for 2021. The study also provides information on poverty rates by age group: 54.3% for those under 18, 29.9% for those aged 18 to 64, and 21.0% for those 65 and over.

Shamokin’s occupations are mostly in service, retail, sales and office activities, production, transportation, and business management.

Poverty may have a big influence on people and communities. Poverty is associated with an increased risk of health problems, food insecurity, and housing instability. They are also more likely to face barriers to receiving a good education and finding work.

Given all of this, far too many people in Shamokan live in poverty relative to the rest of the state.

What town in Pennsylvania has the highest crime rate?

This Has Been Named the Poorest Town in Pennsylvania

The narrative on crime rates in Pennsylvania’s smallest municipalities paints a troubling picture.

While Shamokin has its share of crime, with a rate of 40 per 1,000 residents — much more than the national average of 18 per 1,000 residents — it falls far short of McKees Rocks.

According to Neighborhood Scout, McKees Rocks had 106 violent crimes per 1,000 residents in 2022, which is more than three times the national rate.

Property crimes such as burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft are prominent in McKees Rocks, as they are in Shamokin, but violent crimes such as assault and robbery are also prevalent.

McKees Rocks outperform only 1% of US communities in terms of safety, with Borough Center and McKees Rocks East listed as the most dangerous areas.

This significant contrast between Shamokin and McKees Rocks highlights the larger issue of crime and safety in rural Pennsylvania communities, which is frequently exacerbated by socioeconomic factors such as poverty and drug usage.

Where does Shamokin, Pennsylvania, appear on a map?

This Has Been Named the Poorest Town in Pennsylvania

Shamokin is located in Northumberland County, in central-east Pennsylvania. It is approximately 70 miles north of the state capital, Harrisburg, and 50 miles east of Williamsport. Shamokin’s geographical coordinates are around 40.7884° N latitude and 76.5585° W longitude.

Despite its problems and the distinction of being the poorest town in Pennsylvania, this is a resilient city with a rich history that “was once one of the economic superpowers of the Pennsylvania Coal Region,” according to Shamokin History.

The town’s historic structures and landmarks include the Anthracite Heritage Museum, the Roaring Creek Valley Railroad, and the Shamokin Dam. Shamokin also has a diverse population, with people from all over the world.


Shamokin, Pennsylvania, faces economic challenges, marked by a declining population, high poverty rates, and a history deeply intertwined with the coal industry’s struggles. Despite these difficulties, the town remains resilient, preserving its rich history and cultural diversity, reflecting the broader complexities of rural communities in Pennsylvania.


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