Syracuse, NY – Syracuse has the highest child poverty in the nation among cities with a population of at least 100,000, according to new census data released today.
The poverty rate for children under 18 is 48.4% in Syracuse, ranking the city ahead of places like Detroit and Cleveland. Two other upstate New York cities, Buffalo and Rochester, also made the list of the top 10 cities with the highest child poverty.
You can see the rankings for the country’s worst child poverty rates in the table below. If you don’t see the table, click here to open this story in a web browser.
Syracuse’s child poverty rate translates to more than 14,000 city children living below the poverty line. For a family of four with two children, poverty meant an annual income of less than $26,246 in 2020, according to the Census Bureau.
Syracuse also falls short on this measure among a larger group of cities with populations over 50,000. It has the fifth highest child poverty in the nation in this group, behind only Gary, Indiana; Youngtown, Ohio; Flint, Michigan and Canton, Ohio.
The situation of children under 5 in the city is even worse. The poverty rate for this age group is over 51%, #2 in the nation for cities with more than 100,000 people and #5 for cities with more than 50,000.
More than 4,400 children under age 5 in Syracuse live below the poverty line, according to census data.
The poverty figures come from the Census Bureau’s latest round of five-year population and population estimates. Estimates compile data from 2016 to 2020.
The office urged caution about the new estimates, given the disruptions the Covid-19 pandemic has caused to its data collection.
In 2020, the bureau collected only about two-thirds the number of surveys it uses to produce the estimates as it normally does. The margins of error for some figures are slightly higher than in some past years.
The margin of error for Syracuse’s child poverty rate, for example, is plus or minus 2.9 points for the 2020 estimates, up from 2.4 points in 2015.
And because the figures only cover the period from 2016 to 2020, they do not reflect the full effects of the pandemic on poverty. This includes both the economic crash that left thousands unemployed in Syracuse and federal relief efforts, many of which were aimed at alleviating poverty and did not arrive until 2021.
The bureau pointed out that the new estimates include the end of one of the longest economic expansions on record.
But the latest numbers generally follow Syracuse’s history. The city has struggled with high overall poverty and child poverty for years.
The city’s abysmal ranking in child poverty comes despite the fact that those numbers have actually improved since 2015, according to the Census Bureau.
Child poverty in Syracuse was 1.2 percentage points lower in 2020 than it was five years earlier. Other cities have simply seen bigger drops, pushing them lower on the list than Syracuse. Child poverty in Detroit has dropped nearly 10 points, for example.
Syracuse’s overall poverty rate has also improved since 2015, down 4.5 percentage points, though it also remains one of the worst in the country.
The city’s overall poverty rate of 30.3% ranks it 14th among U.S. cities with at least 50,000 residents and fourth among cities with more than 100,000 residents.
More than 38,000 people in the city live below the poverty line.
You can see the top 25 US cities with populations over 50,000 in the table below, ranked by poverty rate.
Poverty in Syracuse is more than twice the national average of 12.8% and New York State’s figure of 13.6%.
Almost every city on the top 25 lists of at least 50,000 and 100,000 people has seen declines in poverty, in some cases much larger than Syracuse. That means Syracuse’s overall poverty rankings haven’t changed much since 2015.
The city also has some of the highest poverty rates in the country among blacks and Hispanics.
The city has the highest poverty rate in the nation among Hispanics for cities with more than 100,000 residents at 42.9%. It is No. 6 for poverty among black residents at 40%.
These numbers are much higher than the figure for whites in Syracuse of 21.7%.
All of these poverty rates have improved since 2015.
The rate among Hispanic residents fell the most, dropping 6.2 percentage points. Poverty among black Syracusans fell 1.5 points and 3.1 points among whites.
Nationally, poverty fell in 49 states and Washington, D.C., and was essentially stable in Alaska from 2015 to 2020. No state saw an increase during the period, according to the Census Bureau. .
The charts and rankings in this story cover US state cities. They exclude Puerto Rico and other territories.