Special Report

The Poorest County in Each State

46. Martinsville, Virginia
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $28,116
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $63,907
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 27.2%
> Unemployment, 2013: 12.1%

Residents in poor counties — even the poorest counties – in relatively wealthy states tend to have higher incomes compared to the poorest counties in less well-off states. Virginia, however, appears to be the exception to this pattern. In Martinsville, the poorest area in Virginia, a typical household earned $28,116 annually between 2009 and 2013, nearly $36,000 less than the statewide figure.

47. Whitman County, Washington
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $36,257
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $59,478
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 32.6%
> Unemployment, 2013: 6.2%

While Washington residents earned nearly $60,000 annually between 2009 and 2013, a typical Whitman County household earned over $23,000 less. Despite the low incomes, however, residents were exceptionally well educated. Nearly half of adults in the county had attained at least a bachelor’s degree during the five years through 2013, one of the highest rates. The region also had a extremely strong high school attainment rate, with 96.2% of adults having completed at least high school.

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48. McDowell County, West Virginia
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $22,252
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $41,043
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 36.3%
> Unemployment, 2013: 10.0%

Due in large part to especially low incomes in McDowell County, nearly 51% of county residents lived in poverty between 2009 and 2013, versus the comparable national rate of 15.4%. McDowell County children were also much more likely to live in poverty than children in other counties. More than 77% of county minors were estimated to have lived in poverty over that period, higher than in the vast majority of regions.

49. Ashland County, Wisconsin
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $38,550
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $52,413
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 18.8%
> Unemployment, 2013: 9.0%

Nearly 22% of Ashland County residents had attained at least a bachelor’s degree between 2009 and 2013. While this figure was high relative to the poorest counties in other states, it was substantially lower than the national college attainment rate of nearly 29%. At any rate, households in the county were quite poor. Children are usually disproportionately affected by poverty: More than 30% of children in Ashland County lived in poverty, versus the comparable national rate of 21.3%.

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50. Albany County, Wyoming
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $42,774
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $57,406
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 26.0%
> Unemployment, 2013: 4.0%

A typical family in Albany County earned $42,774 a year between 2009 and the 2013, the lowest median annual household income in Wyoming. While this was substantially lower than the corresponding national figure of $53,046, Albany was far wealthier than other poor regions in other states. Residents were also exceptionally well-educated. Nearly half of the area’s adults had a bachelor’s degree during the five years through 2013, versus less than 29% of all Americans.

Click here to see the richest county in each state.

Correction: An earlier version of this report did not mention that  counties with fewer than 10,000 people were not considered.

 

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