A Demographic Snapshot of Disconnected Low-Income Men. States and Metropolitan Areas with the Most Low-Income Men and the Highest Shares of Low-Income Men Are Not the Same


The differences between size versus share of low-income men in a metropolitan area may pose different challenges and opportunities for states and localities as they consider what low-income men need in order to succeed and connect with mainstream economic and social systems.

The number of low-income men in a given location gives a sense of magnitude, while the percentage gives a sense of concentration. The geographical distribution of low-income men across the United States varies considera-bly according to whether the metric is size (numbers) or percent (share) of the population. Generally speaking, the states with the largest proportions of low-income men are conventionally considered more rural. In Mississippi, 38 percent of the population of men age 18–44 is low income. Other states where more than a third of men are low income include New Mexico and Arkansas (37 percent), West Virginia (36 percent), Idaho and Oklahoma (35 per-cent), and Kentucky, Alabama, and Tennessee (34 percent; see appendix table 1).

Figure 2. Share of Low-Income Men by Metropolitan Area, 2008–10

Figure 2. Share of Low-Income Men by Metropolitan Area, 2008–10

Source: ASPE tabulations of the American Community Survey (2008–10).

Note: Low-income men are age 18–44, live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and do not have four-year college degrees.

Not surprisingly, larger metropolitan areas have a higher number of low-income men. The Los Angeles metro-politan area has the largest number of low-income men, 760,000 (figure 1; also see appendix table 2).6 Nearly that many low-income men reside in the New York metropolitan area (739,000), and close to a half-million (407,000) reside in the Chicago metro area. The Dallas and Houston metro-politan areas have the next-largest low-income male popu-lations, followed by the Miami and Atlanta metropolitan areas. Riverside, Phoenix, and Philadelphia round out the top 10 metropolitan areas.

Perhaps more surprisingly, smaller metropolitan areas have higher shares of low-income men. The share of men who are low income is higher in metropolitan areas aside from the very largest, including 54 percent in McAllen (TX), 46 percent in Fresno, and 44 percent in Bakersfield. Other metropolitan areas with above-average low-income shares include El Paso (43 percent), Tucson (37 percent), River-side, Memphis, Oklahoma, and San Antonio (33 percent each). The low-income shares are smaller in the Seattle, Minneapolis, San Jose, Baltimore, Boston, and Washington, DC, metropolitan areas at under 20 percent (figure 2).

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