An estimated 10.2% of residents in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton 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 11.5%. Boston has the second lowest poverty rate of any Massachusetts 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 Boston, adults who graduated from high school are 2.1 times less likely to be in poverty. An estimated 91.4% of adults in Boston 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 Boston, the 3.5% unemployment rate is lower than the jobless rate nationwide, which may partially explain the low poverty rate.

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 Boston, there are 258 premature deaths per 100,000 residents annually, less than the national premature death rate of 474 per 100,000 Americans.

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 Boston metro area earns $78,800 annually, higher than both the median household income for Massachusetts of $70,628, and the median income for all U.S. households of $55,775 nationwide. Boston has the highest median household income of any Massachusetts 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%