The segregation of poor people, whether organic or intentional, is a serious problem with numerous socioeconomic and political effects.
The large metros where the poor are most segregated are in the Midwest and the Northeast. Milwaukee has the highest level, followed by Hartford, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Buffalo, Denver, Baltimore, and Memphis. Many of these are Rustbelt metros with large minority populations that have been hit hard by deindustrialization. When medium and smaller-sized metros are taken into account, many of the places with the most concentrated poverty turn out to be college towns, where the town-gown divide seems to be very real.
State College, Pennsylvania (home to Penn State), has the highest level of poverty segregation in the country; Ann Arbor (University of Michigan) is fifth; Ames, Iowa (Iowa State) is eighth and New Haven (Yale University) is tenth. Madison, Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin); Boulder, Colorado (University of Colorado); Iowa City, Iowa (University of Iowa); and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois (University of Illinois), all suffer from relatively high levels of poverty segregation as well.
Conversely, the large metros where the poor are the least segregated are mainly found in the Sunbelt and the West. Four of the ten least segregated large metros in terms of poverty are located in Florida—Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Jacksonville. Many of these metros have lower wage service economies, but several are centers of high tech industry and knowledge work, including San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley, as well as Portland, Oregon; Seattle, and Salt Lake City.