Regional Picture

About 338,000 people live in or near poverty in Buffalo Niagara. Poverty is concentrated and most persistent in urban areas. But it’s spreading into rural and suburban areas where access to jobs and services is more limited, especially without a car. Finding ways to increase access to education and training, reduce housing cost burdens, and provide flexible transportation options are universal needs in communities across Buffalo Niagara.

Read more about the regional picture in the Numbers in Need Buffalo Niagara Regional Report which summarizes findings from our 12 community reports and presents strategies, models, and considerations for the future, including the potential ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About a third of the region’s residents live in or near poverty. From 2011 to 2017, poverty increased more than the total population.

Vulnerable populations, % living in poverty, 2017

50,000 children in the region live in poverty. In some cities, poverty rates for children are double the regional rate.

Source: American Community Survey.

Thousands of single-parent households in the region are economically vulnerable. 36% live in poverty.

Source: American Community Survey.

About 23,000 young adults—who fuel the workforce and are key to the region’s future—live in poverty.

Source: American Community Survey.

Regionwide, two-parent families are six times less likely to be in poverty than single-parent families.

Source: American Community Survey.

25% of the region’s refugees and immigrants are in poverty. Poverty rates are even higher in urban areas.

Source: American Community Survey.

More than 8,000 older individuals in the region live in poverty. This number represents 10% of seniors age 75+.

Source: American Community Survey.


The region’s top 10 employers provide over 90,000 jobs—about 16% of all jobs in the region.

Top 10 Employers, 2019
Rank Employer
#1 State of New York
#2 Federal Executive Board
#3 Kaleida Health
#4 Catholic Health
#5 Buffalo City School District
#6 University at Buffalo
#7 M&T Bank
#8 Erie County
#9 Wegmans Food Markets
#10 Tops Friendly Markets

Source: Various. See Data Sources and Notes.

40% of all jobs in the region pay $40,000 a year or more.

Jobs by Income Level, 2015
Buffalo Niagara
Total Jobs 547,851
<$15k/yr 150,324
$15-$40k/yr 178,599
>$40k/yr 218,928

Source: US Census Bureau, LEHD.


Adults with a high school diploma earn nearly $20,000 less than those with a bachelor’s.

Graduation rates improved slightly between 2011 and 2017.


70% of all lower-income households are burdened by housing costs. Most are renters.

  • In the 12 communities, home values tend to be lower than the regional median of $135,000.

    Median Home Value, 2017


    Source: American Community Survey
  • Half of the region’s renters pay more than $763/month in rent.

    Median Rent, 2017


    Source: American Community Survey


13% of the region’s households don’t have a vehicle. Older adults are less likely to have a vehicle than younger residents.

Households Without Vehicles, 2017
  • 11%
    UNDER 65 yr
  • 16%
    OVER 65 yr
Source: American Community Survey.

Buffalo Niagara is car dependent. 90% of commuters get to work by car.


Region-wide, violent crime rates decreased 21% from 2010 to 2017. But in some suburban communities, violent crime went up.

The region wide property crime rate fell by 28% from 2010 to 2017.

Juvenile arrests decreased by 37% between 2013 and 2017. The largest cities—Buffalo and Niagara Falls—saw significant declines.

Over 200 human service providers and leaders use Numbers in Need to find information, build partnerships, pursue funding and advocate for their community.

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