Special Report

The Poorest Town in Each State

Samuel Stebbins, Thomas C. Frohlich, Michael B. Sauter

1. Tuskegee, Alabama
> Town median household income:
$26,848
> State median household income: $43,253 (5th lowest)
> Town poverty rate: 24.2%
> Town population: 9,556

A typical household in Tuskegee earned $26,848 per year, the lowest median income in Alabama and roughly half the national median household income of $53,046. Nearly 19% of Alabama residents lived in poverty, the sixth highest rate nationwide. In Tuskegee, the poverty rate was even higher, at more than 24%.

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2. Ketchikan, Alaska
> Town median household income:
$52,266
> State median household income: $70,760 (3rd highest)
> Town poverty rate: 8.3%
> Town population: 8,130

While Ketchikan is the poorest town in Alaska, the town is not especially poor compared to the rest of the country. Ketchikan households earned $52,266 annually from 2009 through 2013, roughly in line with the national median income. However, households earned far less than Alaskans as a whole. Alaska’s median household income was $70,760, the third-highest in the nation.

3. Bisbee, Arizona
> Town median household income:
$33,038
> State median household income: $49,774 (22nd lowest)
> Town poverty rate: 20.7%
> Town population: 5,507

Arizona households earned nearly $50,000 annually, slightly lower than the national figure of $53,046. Bisbee households — the poorest in the state — earned about two-thirds of that, with a median household income of just slightly over $33,000. Also, more than 20% residents lived in poverty from 2009 through 2013 versus the five-year national average poverty rate of 11.3%.

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4. Helena-West Helena, Arkansas
> Town median household income:
$22,807
> State median household income: $40,768 (2nd lowest)
> Town poverty rate: 34.5%
> Town population: 12,012

According to the latest available data, slightly more than one in five households in Helena-West Helena earned less than $10,000 annually, compared to less than one in 10 state residents. Also, 34.5% of residents lived in poverty, compared to 19.2% of residents across the state. Helena-West Helena is the poorest town in the second poorest state in the country. Only 75.1% of the town’s adults had graduated from high school, the smallest percentage of all towns in Arkansas.

5. Clearlake, California
> Town median household income:
$25,061
> State median household income: $61,094 (8th highest)
> Town poverty rate: 30.2%
> Town population: 15,127

Clearlake is the poorest town in California, with a poverty rate of 30.2% of residents, compared to a state rate of 15.9%. The typical Clearlake household earned $182,161 less than the average household in the wealthiest town in the state. While lower income often correlates with lower educational attainment, 80.6% of adults in Clearlake had at least a high school diploma, roughly in line with the statewide rate,