An estimated 12.7% of residents in the Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin 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 16.7%. Nashville has the lowest poverty rate of any Tennessee 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 Nashville, adults who graduated from high school are 2.0 times less likely to be in poverty. An estimated 89.0% of adults in Nashville have at least a high school diploma, the third 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 Nashville, the 3.6% unemployment rate is lower than the jobless rate nationwide, which may partially explain the low poverty rate.

Low poverty and unemployment often create the conditions for a low violent crime rate. There were 613 violent crimes per 100,000 Nashville residents in 2015, however, higher than 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 Nashville, there are 388 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 less divided along racial lines in Nashville, where 21.9% of African Americans and 9.8% 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 Nashville metro area earns $57,985 annually, higher than both the median household income for Tennessee of $47,275, and the median income for all U.S. households of $55,775 nationwide. Nashville has the highest median household income of any Tennessee 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%