Special Report

The Poorest County in Each State

36. Pushmataha County, Oklahoma
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $29,897
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $45,339
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 26.5%
> Unemployment, 2013: 7.6%

Pushmataha County households had a median annual income of less than $30,000 between 2009 and 2013, the poorest in Oklahoma. Perhaps due in part to the low incomes, residents also had relatively low health insurance coverage rates. More than 27% did not have health care insurance over the five years through 2013, versus the comparable national figure of 14.9%.

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37. Malheur County, Oregon
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $35,578
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $50,229
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 27.4%
> Unemployment, 2013: 8.7%

As in the poorest counties in other states, low incomes among Malheur County residents can be partly attributed to low educational attainment rates. Just 13.1% of adults in the region had at least a bachelor’s degree during the five years through 2013, versus the national figure of nearly 29%. Poverty was also prevalent in the area. Between 2009 and 2013, 27.4% of Malheur residents lived below the poverty line.

38. Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $37,192
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $52,548
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 26.5%
> Unemployment, 2013: 10.0%

While most of the poorest counties in each state tend to have relatively small populations, Philadelphia is one of several exceptions. Often, living expenses in urban areas can be higher, making Philadelphia’s low incomes more of a financial burden than in other states’ poorest counties. Also, just 53.3% of housing units in the county were owned by their occupants. Nearly 65% of U.S. housing units, by contrast, were owned by occupants. Poverty was also a problem in the area, as 26.5% of residents lived below the poverty line during the five years through 2013.

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39. Providence County, Rhode Island
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $49,297
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $56,361
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 17.1%
> Unemployment, 2013: 10.2%

Providence County residents, the poorest in Rhode Island, were not especially poor compared with the rest of the state. A typical household in the area earned more than $49,000 annually between 2009 and 2013, just $7,064 less than the comparable median household income for the state. One reason for the small disparity between the county and its overall state may be the relatively small size of Rhode Island. The state is divided into just five counties.

40. Allendale County, South Carolina
> County median household income, 2009-2013: $25,252
> State median household income, 2009-2013: $44,779
> Poverty rate, 2009-2013: 36.0%
> Unemployment, 2013: 14.0%

Allendale County’s 2013 unemployment rate of 14% was among the higher rates nationwide and considerably higher than the national rate of 7.4%. The area’s relatively weak job market may help explain the remarkably low incomes among residents. Between 2009 and 2013, the median annual household income in Allendale was just $25,252, less than half the national figure of $53,046.

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