Society & Culture

The poorest town in Vermont is……

West Brattleboro building (Wikipedia)

By Guy Page

The poorest town in Vermont is…..

Not in the Northeast Kingdom, often considered the poorest region of the state. 

Not populated by uneducated people. In fact, it is above Vermont-average for high school graduates.

Not black. Less than one percent of residents identify as black.

Not an actual town, at all, but a region th e Census Bureau calls a “census-designated spot.” The poorest town in Vermont is actually part of the Town of Brattleboro, the Windham County county seat. 

Brattleboro proper is home to an active downtown, an active, numerous-if-not-always-thriving arts community, the historic home of Rudyard Kipling, and Congresswoman Becca Balint. 

West Brattleboro, though, is better known as a village with a few nice shops, covered bridges and restaurants you may or may not stop at as you drive west out of Brattleboro on Rte. 9, destination Marlboro, Bennington, and other towns. 

According to 2021 census data table provided in a January 7 Center Square report, the ‘poorest town in Vermont’ has a population of 2770. Vermont’s median household income is $67,694; West Brattleboro’s, $36,618. That’s also about ⅗ of the Windham County median household income of $59,000. Given the low incomes, it is not surprising that a larger than average share of residents live in poverty. The local poverty rate in the town stands at 19.4%, compared to the statewide poverty rate of 10.5%.

Data for the Center Square report are sourced from five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey. For the purposes of this story, towns are defined as incorporated legal entities or census-designated statistical areas with populations between 1,000 to 25,000 people, Center Square said. Towns were excluded if median household income was not available in the 2021 ACS or if the sampling error associated with a town’s data was deemed too high.

“Poorest town” defies some stereotypes – A deep dive into the West Brattleboro Census data by CensusReporter.org shows that West Brattleboro defies some poverty stereotypes. 

Unlike many poor communities nationwide that are predominantly black, West Brattleboro census figures show an official “0%” black. Even given a generous statistical margin of error, the community clearly has few African-American residents. However, its total minority population is about 12%, higher than the statewide average of eight percent. Four percent identify as hispanic. 

West B also defies the “low-education, low-income” model. It has a better high school graduation rate (96.9%) than both Windham County and the rest of Vermont. Its 32% college graduation rate is 80% less than both the county and state, though. 

Other demographic data that may – or may not – be relevant:

Born in the U.S.A: Just 1.9% are foreign born, compared to more than three percent for county and state.  

More women: 56% of West Brattleboro residents are women, compared to 50.3% statewide. Women typically earn less than men. Also, the birth rate is nearly double the rate of the rest of Windham County. 

Smaller households: West B households average 2.0 members, vs. 2.4 statewide. The 34% married rate is significantly less than Windham (43%) and Vermont (49%). 

More likely to move: West B residents are 25% more likely to have moved in the last 12 months than the rest of Windham County. 

Owner-occupied housing: 20% cheaper than the rest of the county. It is home to a large trailer park, Mountain Home Trailer Park. 

Fewer veterans: West B has about 60% as many veterans per capita as both state and county. 

West B compares favorably with the poorest towns in the two other Northern New England states. Data from Center Square report, based on Census data:

StatePoorest townMedian household income in town ($)Median household income in state ($)Poverty rate in town (%)Poverty rate in state (%)Number of towns considered in state
VermontWest Brattleboro36,61867,67419.410.547
New HampshireAshland33,36583,44931.77.457
MaineMachias20,33363,18238.311101
MassachusettsWare43,78389,02617.49.9154
Rhode IslandCentral Falls40,23574,48924.911.319

Categories: Society & Culture

8 replies »

  1. Another prime example of failed policies and squandered opportunities. The elected officials and bureaucrats line their own pockets while their cities and towns fall into steady decline. Vermont cannot sustain itself on non-profit NGOs and federal welfare. If Vermont’s main industry is based on a behemouth welfare system, do not expect any town or city to prosper going forward. Chittenden County dictates over the entire State now and the results are obvious. Hence the saying “go woke, go broke.”

  2. Closing VY didn’t help Brattleboro. Sadly not one of the state reps though to build another nuclear power plant to replace the lost jobs and power. But lets promote electric cars and stoves, Montpelier is out of touch with reality.

  3. So, what’s an income when not compared with the amount that goes to servicing debt insurance or alimony? What’s their health, drug addiction rates and life expectancy? What’s the crime rate, exposure to lying media and crooked, self-serving politicians, snobby, busybody neighbors? For all we know the poor benighted folks in West Brattleboro are leading the best of the good life! Just in case they are maybe the Legislators could pass some more laws and hire more bureaucrats to bring them more in line with the rest of us,eh?

  4. If Becca Balint came from there then it is not a good place. Don’t go there and be sure to erase it off your maps.

  5. How does one obtain all this data on people? The census is only supposed to count bodies. . . . Income levels seem pretty personal. “Hi, I live in this town I earn this many dollars every year.” Does anyone see anything wrong with this? I identify as a “green grasshopper” I have a PhD in “etymology” 🙄

  6. If you want to find the ‘poorest’ towns, determine those with the most subsidized low-income housing and lenient social welfare offices.

  7. One of the largest and best paying employers was repeatedly discouraged from expanding in Bratt. C&S Wholesale Grocers wanted to build a second warehouse in Bratt right next to I-91. After many attempts to proceed they built it in Hatfield Ma. They also moved their offices to Keene N H. All their highly compensated officials no longer had to pay Vt. income taxes. Nice going Vermont! Lets just throw the baby out with the bath water.

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