The Poorest County in Each State

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31. Sierra County, New Mexico
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $27,430
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $44,927
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 22.6%
> Unemployment, 2013: 6.2%

Like in most of New Mexico, Sierra County residents earned relatively little compared to most Americans. County households had a median annual income of $27,430 between 2009 and 2013, nearly half the national income of $53,046. However, the county’s job market, as measured by unemployment, was relatively strong. Just 6.2% of the area’s workforce was unemployed in 2013, lower than the national rate.

32. Bronx County, New York
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $34,388
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $58,003
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 29.8%
> Unemployment, 2013: 11.8%

Less than 70% of adults living in the Bronx had attained at least a high school diploma, one of the lowest attainment rates in the country. Poor education among residents likely contributed to the area’s low incomes. Low incomes, in turn, made it exceedingly difficult for residents to afford owning their homes. Less than one in five housing units in the Bronx were occupied by the homeowner, versus close to two-thirds of housing units across the nation.

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33. Scotland County, North Carolina
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $29,592
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $46,334
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 32.3%
> Unemployment, 2013: 14.6%

A typical household in Scotland County earned an annual income of less than $30,000 over the five years through 2013, substantially lower than the state and national median household incomes. The county’s job market was particularly weak, with an unemployment rate of 14.6%, nearly double the national rate in 2013. Additionally, as in most of the poorest counties in each state, Scotland residents had low college attainment rates. While nearly 29% of Americans had at least a bachelor’s degree during the five years through 2013, just over 14% of Scotland residents had such a degree.

34. Rolette County, North Dakota
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $31,336
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $53,741
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 36.0%
> Unemployment, 2013: 12.9%

More than 34% of Rolette County residents did not have health insurance during the five years through 2013, versus 14.9% nationwide. The low coverage rate was likely the result of the low incomes and weak job market. Nearly 13% of the workforce was unemployed in 2013, versus the national unemployment rate of 7.4%.

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35. Athens County, Ohio
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $33,823
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $48,308
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 31.7%
> Unemployment, 2013: 8.4%

Nearly 32% of Athens County residents lived in poverty over the five years through 2013, more than double the national figure of 15.4%. While children are almost always more likely to live in poverty than adults in the United States, this was not the case in Athens County, where nearly 29% of children lived in poverty. However, this rate was much higher than the comparable national rate of 21.3%. County households had such low incomes that owning a home was also out of reach for many area residents. Over the five years through 2013, less than 57% of housing units were owned by occupants, versus the national homeownership rate of 64.9%.