Memphis ranked as one of the poorest cities in the nation

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- New research shows Memphis is one of the poorest cities in the country.

The national poverty rate is going down, but the Bluff City's numbers are climbing, and Memphis' children are listed among the poorest of the poor.

Dr. Elena Delavega with the University of Memphis has been studying poverty for the past three years. She said poverty rates have generally gone down.

"Poverty rates for single women households with no children and married couple households have decreased," she said.

However, child poverty rates in Memphis are on the rise. Close to half of the city's children are listed below the poverty line.

Dr. Delavega thinks this should send a clear message to the city.

"We need to support mothers," she said. "We need child care that is affordable. We need better public transportation."

Delavega blames much of the problem on Tennessee's minimum wage.

"People in Memphis who use public transportation have minimum wages that are half the national average," she said.

Race and ethnicity also play a big part. Delavega said poverty rates for non-Hispanics have been going down steadily since 2009.

"Our poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanics is much higher than the national average," she said.

She also noted a direct tie between poverty and crime, and thinks if Memphis is going to turn things around, we'll have to start lending hands.

"We have to take care of our own," she said. "If we don't take care of our own, none of us can be safe."

For cities with a population less than 1 million, Memphis was listed as the poorest in the nation.

Delavega said she plans on providing Memphis city officials with her research.


    • ForThePeople

      Figures. With slavery type wages, teen age mobs roaming the street, unemployment rate through the roof and the only job you can get is through a “temp” agency, why wouldn’t they be on the list!

  • takenobull

    This is impossible. Memphis just paid 40 million dollars for Beale Street Landing, paid 19 million dollars for a ball park for the upper middle class, and allows corporations to pay no taxes.

  • TK

    Another “intellectual” blaming poverty on the minimum wage. Stupid is as stupid does. What is it going to take for these people to realize that the demise of the family unit is the source of this problem?

    • dada

      The poorest? In what way? Ever notice the fattest, most children get food for free? Not to mention the newest nicest cars?

  • The village must take care of our own (village is full of idiots)

    Delavega says we must take care of our own. That is the problem Ms Delavega, the government taking care of these so-called poor people. Let’s try a new concept where you take care of yourself. Instead of food stamps lets hand out flour, corn meal, powdered milk and eggs, and fresh vegetables that must be cooked. That would be the end of the food stamp industry and my guess is these people might actually seek employment to eat what they want instead of what they are GIVEN. Sec 8 housing should get a monthly inspection to make sure the property is being maintained. No more welfare money, you will be given a voucher to the Goodwill Store to get your clothes and shoes. Beggars cant be choosy ya know. People like Delavega always seem to want to tell other people what to do with their money, what they should pay uneducated and usually lazy workers. If she is so brilliant then let her start a business and pay the employees a $15 minimum wage to show us how it can be done succesfully. No she is one more liberal trying to tell everyone why liberalism is failing and it is always more money to solve the issue and it never works. I worked for minimum wage for 5 long years. If I remember correctly it was $1.60, $1.85, $2.85 and then $3.35. I dang near starved to death working for a commodity company working my way up the ranks. After 15 years I was vice-president. I am sick of the excuses these liberals use.

    • Christine

      I beg to differ with the stereotype that blacks are lazy. President Bill Clinton had a law passed that you can only be on welfare for so long. Also that you had to be looking for employment. A lot of jobs that the illegals are doing use to be done by blacks and whites with a limited education. The reasons that Mexicans are doing so well is that they are being paid in cash. When hurricane Katrina happened black and white men was hired to do some of the clean up. When the contract was given to a private contractor, he did not hire the blacks or the whites. He brought in a lot of illegals. Also when one of the major chicken producers got raided because some of their employees were using stolen children’s social security numbers, hundreds of the employees were taken into custody. On the news it showed how when blacks and whites tried to apply for those jobs the company said it was not hiring. Also when a country club was raided in Georgia for hiring illegals, they would not hire whites or blacks. There is going to be a time when whites are no longer the majority and you all will be in the same boat as blacks. You all gone be on food stamps because you all will not getting hired either. There is a small city in California, when the Hispanics took over they wanted all government contracts to go to Hispanics. They got so mad because a black business man was awarded a government contract. I am not a black racist for bringing out these points. You can do your own research and find out these facts are true. I do not have a problem with a company hiring anyone that they want so long as it is done legally. If you are a business owner and you feel that you will get a better results by hiring Hispanics who may come in the country illegally, then you should be the one sponsoring them. That means that they will be your sole responsibility and that it will be a financial burden to the American taxpayers.

      • Illegals and Clintons welfare program

        Funny you should bring up ILLEGALS. Our current President refuses to follow our laws. Instead of arresting and deporting them, he is giving them amnesty. The illegals have the best of all worlds. They get the welfare, work for cash, and do not pay a penny in taxes and aren’t even supposed to be in this country. Blacks voted for Obama over 90% so they have voted for someone who is further destroying the black community.
        As for Clintons programs, you are correct he changed the welfare laws. The new rules were you could only get 5 years of freebies over your lifetime and no more than 2 years consecutively. He also changed the rules that after 3 children your monthly stipend would not increase any further. Now if you had kept up with what happened it was all a farce. Within 3 years the state of Illinois requested a “WAIVER” from these rules because they said people would starve to death. “WAIVER” granted. Since Illinois got it every state was granted their waivers and the law is not enforced, just like our immigration laws are not enforced. As for the 3 child rule, the democrats instituted a “new program” where foster kids would be kept with their families if possible. Guess what, after 3 kids granny now gets the kids as a foster parent with no limit on how many she can foster. To top it off the foster program pays $600 per month, per child, which is almost double the welfare payments. So much for Clintons program. Yet people keep voting for these democrats and the reason is “waivers”, “foster kids”, and every other lunatic giveaway they can find to buy a vote.

      • Pamela

        SAY the word “welfare” and immediately the image of the lazy Black welfare queen who breeds for profit surfaces in the minds of those who have come to believe the hideous stereotype. It is a myth that persists despite government figures and authoritative studies showing that Whites overwhelmingly reap the lion’s share of the dole.The image of the Black “welfare cheat,” public aid advocates say, is based on misconceptions about poor minorities. The notion, they say, comes from society’s resentment of seemingly able-bodied people getting paid for doing nothing.

        “For some people, there is a need to believe that there are
        professional welfare recipients who are deliberately trying to get not
        only what they need to survive, but more,” says Anne D. Hill, director
        of programs for the National Urban League. “People say to themselves: ‘I
        work. How come this person who appears to be healthy isn’t working?’ We
        tend to equate our condition with others without fully knowing their
        Statistic Verification
        Source: US Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, CATO Institute
        Research Date: July 8th, 2014
        Welfare is the organized public or private social services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups. Aid could include general Welfare payments, health care through Medicaid, food stamps, special payments for pregnant women and young mothers, and federal and state housing benefits. The Welfare system in the United States began in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. Opponents of Welfare argue that it affects work incentives.


        Welfare Statistics
        Total number of Americans on welfare 12,800,000
        Total number of Americans on food stamps 46,700,000
        Total number of Americans on unemployment insurance 5,600,000
        Percent of the US population on welfare 4.1 %
        Total government spending on welfare annually (not including food stamps or unemployment) $131.9 billion
        Welfare Demographics
        Percent of recipients who are white 38.8 %
        Percent of recipients who are black 39.8 %
        Percent of recipients who are Hispanic 15.7 %
        Percent of recipients who are Asian 2.4 %
        Percent of recipients who are Other 3.3 %
        Welfare Statistics
        Total amount of money you can make monthly and still receive Welfare $1000
        Total Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than an $8 per hour job 39
        Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than a $12 per hour job 6
        Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than the average salary of a U.S. Teacher 8
        Average Time on AFCD (Aid to Families with Dependent Children)
        Time on AFDC Percent of Recipients
        Less than 7 months 19%
        7 to 12 months 15.2%
        1 to 2 years 19.3%
        2 to 5 years 26.9%
        Over 5 years 19.6%
        Top 10 Hourly Wage Equivalent Welfare States in U.S.
        State Hourly Wage Equivalent
        Hawaii $17.50
        Alaska $15.48
        Massachusetts $14.66
        Connecticut $14.23
        Washington, D.C. $13.99
        New York $13.13
        New Jersey $12.55
        Rhode Island $12.55
        California $11.59
        Virginia $11.11

    • Joe Bo

      Ok you idiot, lets spend our tax dollars fighting another war for another trillion dollars. You talk about welfare, and section 8 housing. White people accross America benefit from these “liberal” programs more then any other race.

      • Phil

        Denial is a Party, to some people. LBJs’ “Great Society” programs have decimated the inner cities, and the Black Community. Progressive social tinkering has kept blacks on the liberal plantation for 50 plus years. Guess what? The slave master…is not white! BE the “Change” you seek, or be prepared to live as a slave to poverty for the rest of your life.

  • houndog

    And the mexicans are living in poverty here?? Every mexican you see drives a new SUV or new 4-door pickup truck with the mexican flag glued all over the back windshield. And they’re on welfare.

    • Ron ya gotta have them babies

      RON Put on your thinking cap. In todays society the parent doesn’t support the baby, the baby supports the parent. That baby provides you with food, housing, medical care, a monthly welfare check, a yearly bonus called earned income credit, help with your utilities, a cell phone and other goodies. Of course it all comes from the paychecks of those who actually work for a living. Without that baby you don’t get much of anything don’t ya see? Absolutely nothing you can do about it RON since the government is in charge of how much you can keep and how much you MUST give to these free loaders on society. Never thought I would see the day where perfectly healthy people are given a living just for being immoral and illegitimate. And when they grow up you have to buy them a basketball or they will rob and kill you. And the real kicker is they insist on being paid $15 an hour for flipping a burger. According to this article, that is why they are poor don’t ya see?

  • Problematic

    No spit Sherlock! Its only gonna get worse until you stop paying them to sit at home and make more babies, who just continue to repeat the sad cycle. Instead increasing government benefits for having more babies… How bout decrease them if they haven’t tried to improve they’re situation. Sure it’ll b bad (actually horrible) for a few years but it’ll break the cycle one the kids come up realize they they gonna have to work or just starve. Hate to sound harsh but just looking at the big picture. Jeez I sound like an old conservative white guy. Lol

  • Really?

    Support our mothers? Take care of our own or we are not safe? That is the root of the problem now! We need to stop sending those support checks to women who continue having children they cannot afford to have. Support for first baby maybe. After that we should pay for sterilization and no more kids. Sorry it sound brutal however popping out babies is looked at as a paycheck. It’s hard to live outside poverty on welfare and sitting on your porch. It’s epidemic in Memphis and it’s the cool thing to do……….my babies daddy ( who isn’t around of often times just doesn’t marry the woman because she would lose financial benefits ). Women continue to have babies and dig themselves deeper into this life of poverty. It’s a backwards move for women everywhere. Cut off the money and they will figure out how NOT to get pregnant.

  • Angelica S. DigiArt

    give out free contraceptives to everybody who is willing to adjust their childbirth rates to their income (the contraceptives are cheaper than several years of welfare checks). educate people about how to prevent pregnancy and that babies are no commodities to cash in on welfare. Do it early, in the junior year eventually – and don’t teach ignorant abrahamic doctrine like abstinence since we all are living beings and therefore instinctive (the desire to breed is an instinct in every mammal and the more simple minded people are, the more they run on instinct). get some social workers to take care of the hot spots, your cops can’t solve the problem of violence since they are part of the establishment. Violence needs to be stopped by reaching out and teaching rather than enforcement and incarceration. Problem is – there are enough options to work on the roots of the problem and there are enough empty buildings which can be repurposed to places of education for the youth and for spending free time, to learn some basic social skills and ethics etc, keep the churches out of these projects since they just indoctrinate instead of educate, and that is part of the existing problem, especially considering teen pregnancy) This all will cost a little pocket money for Wharton and he’s not going to do it, since the only thing he cares about are his rich cronies and downtown/midtown, always whining that he hasn’t enough $$ for all these highflying projects nobody can afford. This city is not an island, it turned into a swamp of crime and corruption, which spills over to the rest of Tennessee and surrounding states. Memphis deserves better than that!

  • Joe

    WHAT!! We just bought a ballpark .. Can’t keep the trollies running .. But we bought a BALLPARK while thrives are stealing aluminum off the bleachers of inner city parks ..

    • dada

      Stupid reporter does not yet realize the poorest are the fattest, drive the best cars, get the best food at grocery with welfare credit so what is idiot at WREG complaining about?

  • Frank Stone

    Some of these folks need someone to hold their hand and help them find some kind of job. Many have been beaten down so long and lied to so much. Ignorance is a terrible prison , educate from the top down maybe. Tell somebody they are worthless enough times ….. it becomes the truth.
    If I was a young man I wouldn’t stick around where my job prospects are bad and worse. If you don’t have a car in this city your out of luck because the buses don’t run early , far , or frequently enough. The area only has so many entry level jobs and they can pick drug free , high school graduates with cars to fill those. Like in Kentucky Coalmine , Moonshine , Move it on down the line …….. er we don’t have a Coalmine and , we’re pretty much set for drug dealers.

  • Melanie

    Raising minimum wage won’t have an impact cuz most of the people in poverty don’t work. They get welfare and free child care, free health insurance, free food, free housing. If you work you could lose it. Why would they want change?

  • Donaknowsitall

    I have, on more than one occassion, thought about quitting my job and get on these programs. I have three children, so that’s what $1500.00 a month or so for them, then I should be able to get Welfare too, then since I don’t work I should be able to get free medical and dental care too. So, in the long run, I would get more by not working – I would LOVE to sit at home all day and watch tv!

  • umm...

    I am literally floored by the ignorant vitriol that some of you are spewing. First off, let me start by saying that being a mother of 4, who also happens to be a widow, that intended on having him here a bit longer, I know firsthand what it’s like to need help, sometimes. But, you see, I don’t qualify for food stamps or assistance. We struggle constantly to have food, and necessities. I’d love to get a grade “A” job with my college education, but unfortunately, with four kids and a deceased spouse, I don’t have anyone to juggle the three different start and end times for 3 different schools, and the multitude of times I get calls throughout the day, and let us not forget the ridiculous amount of meetings and homework for even my youngest children. Forgive me if I wish I could get the slightest of help for my family, not that it’s owed to me, but so that my kids will grow up to be healthier from balanced meals and the foods I can’t always afford. Bottom line, the programs, as flawed as they are, were created to help kids. Screw any of you idiots wishing hunger on someone, much less a child.


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