An estimated 12.3% of residents in the Pittsburgh metro area live below the poverty line, a smaller share than both the national poverty rate of 14.7% and the state’s poverty rate of 13.2%. Pittsburgh has the seventh lowest poverty rate of any Pennsylvania 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 Pittsburgh, adults who graduated from high school are 2.1 times less likely to be in poverty. An estimated 93.0% of adults in Pittsburgh have at least a high school diploma, the second highest 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 Pittsburgh, however, the 5.9% 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 266 violent crimes per 100,000 Pittsburgh residents in 2015, lower than 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 Pittsburgh, there are 355 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 Pittsburgh, where 32.5% of African Americans and 9.8% 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 Pittsburgh metro area earns $54,080 annually, lower than both the median household income for Pennsylvania of $55,702, and the median income for all U.S. households of $55,775 nationwide. Pittsburgh has the eighth lowest median household income of any Pennsylvania metro area.

Rank Metro Area Poverty
Rate
10 Pine Bluff, AR 25.7%
9 Valdosta, GA 26.6%
8 Merced, CA 26.7%
7 Greenville, NC 26.8%
5 Athens-Clarke County, GA 27.1%
5 Las Cruces, NM 27.1%
4 Visalia-Porterville, CA 27.6%
3 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 31.5%
2 Laredo, TX 31.8%
1 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 32.4%