An estimated 16.2% of residents in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ metro area live below the poverty line, a larger share than the national poverty rate of 14.7% and a smaller share than the state’s poverty rate of 17.4%. Phoenix has the second lowest poverty rate of any Arizona 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 Phoenix, adults who graduated from high school are also 1.9 times less likely to be in poverty. An estimated 86.5% of adults in Phoenix have at least a high school diploma, the fourth lowest 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 Phoenix, the 5.3% unemployment rate is the same as jobless rate nationwide, despite the higher poverty rate.

Low poverty often creates the conditions for a low violent crime rate. There were 488 violent crimes per 100,000 Phoenix residents in 2015, roughly similar to 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 Phoenix, there are 296 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 slightly less divided along racial lines in Phoenix, where 22.7% of African Americans and 10.2% 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 Phoenix metro area earns $55,547 annually, higher than the median household income for Arizona of $51,492, and roughly similar to the median income for all U.S. households of $55,775 nationwide. Phoenix has the highest median household income of any Arizona 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%