Discover the Unexpected Poorest Town in Idaho – You Won’t Believe the Conditions!

Idaho, with its vast landscapes and captivating natural beauty, paints a picture of prosperity and abundance. However, beneath this picturesque surface lies a stark reality – the town of Rexburg, nestled amidst rolling hills and serene valleys, holds the unfortunate title of the poorest town in the state. This article delves into the unexpected hardships faced by Rexburg, exploring the contributing factors, consequences, and potential pathways towards a brighter future.

Sources – a-z-animals

The Grip of Poverty:

Rexburg’s economic landscape paints a contrasting picture compared to the state’s average. While Idaho boasts a median household income exceeding $63,000, Rexburg households struggle with a significantly lower figure of $44,034, a staggering 30.5% lower than the state’s average. This disparity translates into a stark reality for residents, with 33.3% living below the poverty line, a staggering three times higher than the state’s overall poverty rate of 10.7%.

Education and its Correlation:

The link between education and poverty becomes evident in Rexburg. Statistics reveal a disturbing trend: 81.4% of high school graduates and 42.3% of those without a diploma fall into the poverty bracket. This highlights the crucial role education plays in breaking the cycle of poverty, emphasizing the need for robust educational initiatives and opportunities in the town.

Living Conditions and the Rent Burden:

The economic disparity is further reflected in the housing situation. Rexburg’s poorest residents face a staggering renting rate of 95.2%, compared to just 41.6% for those living above the poverty line. This underscores the additional burden of housing costs on low-income households, leaving them with even fewer resources to meet their basic needs.


Understanding the Why:

Unraveling the causes behind Rexburg’s economic predicament requires a multi-faceted approach. Some factors include:

  • Limited Employment Opportunities: Rexburg’s economy primarily relies on Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYUI), which offers limited employment opportunities outside the university sphere. This lack of industry diversification restricts economic growth and job availability for diverse skill sets.
  • High Cost of Living: Despite the lower average income, the cost of living in Rexburg, particularly housing, is relatively high. This further squeezes the already limited budgets of low-income families.
  • Demographics and Social Factors: The town’s demographics, with a high student population and a large Mormon community, might influence factors like wages, housing availability, and social assistance programs.

Seeking a Path Forward:

Rexburg’s journey towards a brighter future requires a collaborative effort from various stakeholders. Some potential solutions include:

  • Economic Diversification: Encouraging the establishment of diverse industries beyond BYUI-related sectors could create new job opportunities and attract skilled professionals, boosting the local economy.
  • Affordable Housing Initiatives: Implementing programs and incentives to increase the availability of affordable housing options can alleviate the burden on low-income families.
  • Educational Investments: Strengthening educational infrastructure and programs, particularly focusing on vocational and technical training, could equip residents with skills relevant to the local job market and improve their earning potential.
  • Community Support: Fostering a strong community support network through social programs, financial assistance initiatives, and mentorship programs can provide essential support and resources to those struggling with poverty.


Why is the poverty rate so high in Rexburg?

While the high student population at BYUI contributes to Rexburg’s overall population, it also skews the income data, making it appear lower than it truly is for many residents. Additionally, the limited job market outside of BYUI and the high cost of living make it difficult for low-income families to make ends meet.

Is Rexburg a safe place to live despite its poverty rate?

Rexburg has a low crime rate compared to the national average, making it a relatively safe community. However, poverty can contribute to social issues such as homelessness and hunger, which are important to address.

What is the demographic makeup of Rexburg?

Rexburg is predominantly Caucasian with a large Mormon population. This influences aspects of the community, including cultural values, social support networks, and potentially, access to certain resources and opportunities.

What is the quality of education in Rexburg?

Rexburg has a variety of public and private schools, including highly-rated options like Madison High School. However, educational attainment is lower compared to the state average, highlighting the need for improved educational opportunities and resources, especially for low-income students.

What are the main employment sectors in Rexburg?

The largest employer in Rexburg is Brigham Young University-Idaho, followed by healthcare and retail sectors. Diversification of the local economy beyond BYUI-related fields is crucial to creating a more robust job market with opportunities for diverse skill sets.

What are the career prospects for young people in Rexburg?

Graduates from BYUI have access to career opportunities within the university and the surrounding Mormon community. However, for young people with skills outside of these sectors, finding employment might require relocation or additional training.

How expensive is it to live in Rexburg?

While the cost of living in Rexburg is lower compared to some major cities, housing costs are relatively high, particularly for rentals. This puts a significant strain on low-income families and limits their ability to save and invest.

What are the housing options available in Rexburg?

Rexburg offers a mix of housing options, including single-family homes, apartments, and student housing. However, affordable housing options are limited, especially for low-income families and renters.

Are there any government or community programs to help with housing costs?

Rexburg has limited government assistance programs for housing. Local community organizations and charities might offer some assistance with rent or utilities, but the demand often outweighs the available resources.


Rexburg’s story is not merely a statistic, but a human narrative of resilience and hope. While the town grapples with the challenges of poverty, the collective efforts of its residents, policymakers, and community organizations hold the key to unlocking its potential. By addressing the root causes, fostering economic opportunities, and investing in its people, Rexburg can embark on a journey towards a more equitable and prosperous future.


This article is intended to provide general information about Rexburg, Idaho, and the challenges of poverty faced by the community. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or exhaustive analysis of all the factors contributing to poverty in Rexburg. The information presented here is based on publicly available data and sources, and may not be entirely accurate or complete.

It is important to remember that poverty is a complex issue with multiple contributing factors, and there is no single solution. This article is not intended to stereotype or blame any particular group or individual for the challenges faced by Rexburg.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organization, or individual.

K.D. Crowe
K.D. Crowe
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