Austin | Dallas | Houston
Still not as broke as Florida

What Texas Miracle? Residents in some Lone Star State cities rank among the brokest in America

You might think a list of America's "brokest" cities would include places like Harrisburg, Penn., one of six municipalities and counties to declare bankruptcy this year.

But when The Daily Beast is listing broke towns, it is talking about the financial straits of the residents, not the local government, measuring the local unemployment rate, the median household income and the average household debt. And according to the Beast, some of the most cash-strapped cities in the country are in Texas.

Columbus, Ga., took the dubious top spot, followed by Texas' Harlingen and Beaumont. Both cities had personal debt hovering around $25,000, but Harlingen had lower incomes ($31,700 to $41,300) and higher unemployment (12.5 percent vs. 11.5 percent).

Congrats, Harlingen!

Now when other Texas cities try to defend themselves against people saying they are terrible and/or poor, they will be all like "At least we aren't Harlingen!" Of course Beaumont has to deal with another generation of kids thinking Kevin Bacon and Julianne Hough taught everyone there to dance, so it has its own problems.

Other Texas cities on Daily Beast's broke ass brokest list include Waco (No. 13), El Paso (No. 20) and Tyler (No. 21). Florida had the most broke cities, with six, followed by Texas and Georgia with four.

Of course, things really may not be be quite so bad in the former confederacy. By just looking at the median household income as a data point, The Daily Beast unfairly targets areas with lower costs of living and the resulting lower wages.

When one looks at the average debt as a percentage of median income, Harlingen is actually worse off than all the other cities listed in the top 10, with average debt per household at almost 80 percent of median income. However third-place Beaumont comes off better, with debts at 61 percent of income, a slightly better ratio than other top 10 broke cities Greenville, N.C., Medfield, Ore., and Mobile, Ala.

Newsletters for exploring your city

Daily Digest

Austin news, views + events

Insider Offers

Curated experiences at exclusive prices

Promo Alerts

Special offers + exclusive deals

We will not share or sell your email address