America’s Poorest States

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10. North Carolina
> Median income: $43,275
> Poverty rate: 16.1% (tied for 9th highest)
> Without health insurance: 16.7% (13th highest)
> Unemployment: 10.1% (9th highest)

North Carolina has one of the lowest median incomes in the country. It does not perform much better on other metrics related to poverty. There have been a number of programs implemented to help combat poverty in the state recently. One example is the No Kid Hungry program which aims to end childhood hunger in North Carolina by 2015. According to information from the program, “more than 1 in 4 children in North Carolina do not get sufficient food.”

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9. Alabama
> Median income: $42,218
> Poverty rate: 16.1% (tied for 9th highest)
> Without health insurance: 14.4% (21st highest)
> Unemployment rate: 10.0% (10th highest)

Alabama has one of the worst poverty rates in the country. Combined with an unemployment rate of 10% and a median income of just $42,000, state residents are in truly awful shape. While unemployment in most of the country has dropped in recent months, it has actually increased in Alabama. State Governor Robert Bentley, acknowledging the dire circumstances state residents face, has begun a “road to economic recovery” campaign aimed at creating jobs in order to pull the state out of depression. In an interview in the Andalusia Star News, Bentley says he hoped to create 10,000 new jobs by the end of the year, but that it would be challenging.

8. Kentucky
> Median income: $42,091
> Poverty rate: 17.3% (6th highest)
> Without health insurance: 15.5% (18th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.5% (13th highest)

Residents of Kentucky are among the poorest in the nation, and have the 6th highest rate of poverty. One way the state works to lessen the impact of poverty is through Community Action Kentucky, an organization that provides “direct social services to Kentuckians with low and moderate incomes in all 120 Kentucky counties.” The group provides services ranging from housing to employment training to Meals on Wheels. To raise awareness of community-based agencies, Governor Steve Beshear declared May “Community Action Month” this year.

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7. South Carolina
> Median income: $42,059
> Poverty rate: 14.9% (16th highest)
> Without health insurance: 17.6% (12th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 10.9% (4th highest)

South Carolina has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the country, contributing to the state’s high level of poverty and seventh-lowest median income. According to the Greenville News, Governor Nikki Haley stated: “The No. 1 key to dealing with these is training people quickly and getting them back to work.” As a result, Haley is in the midst of developing a jobs training program designed to improve the readiness of the state workforce and, hopefully, drive new employers to South Carolina.

6. Montana
> Median income: $42,005
> Poverty rate: 13.4% (24th highest)
> Without health insurance: 16.3% (16th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.7% (18th lowest)

Aside from its exceptionally low median income, Montana does not rank particularly low on many poverty-related metrics. It also has a lower overall poverty rate than the national average of 15.1%. Times are still tough in the state. According to NBC Montana, the number of students who receive free or reduced cost lunches has increased by at least 2% each year since 2007. In some schools, the share of students receiving these benefits has exceeded 80%.

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5. Louisiana
> Median income: $41,896
> Poverty rate: 18% (4th highest)
> Without health insurance: 18% (11th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.6% (17th lowest)

Nearly one in five people in Louisiana lives in a state of poverty. This is the fourth-worst rate in the country. A full 18% of residents are without health insurance, and median income is the fifth-lowest in the country. The after effects of Hurricane Katrina and, to a lesser extent, the Gulf oil spill, have hurt tourism and job opportunities in the region. In an effort to stimulate the state economy, Governor Bobby Jindal has proposed the construction of a new gas-to-liquids facility, which is expected to create more than 5,000 jobs: “We’re here to make an announcement that could result in Louisiana’s largest economic development project in our state’s entire history.”