Special Report

Poorest County in Each State

11. Hawaii County, Hawaii
> County median household income:
$51,213
> State median household income: $68,201
> Poverty rate: 19.2%
> Unemployment: 5.5%

Hawaii County, which encompasses the entire island of Hawaii — also known as the Big Island — is the state’s poorest area. A typical county household earns nearly $52,000 annually. While this figure is considerably lower than the state’s median household income of $68,201, it is not substantially lower than the national median household income of $53,482.

12. Madison County, Idaho
> County median household income:
$32,052
> State median household income: $47,334
> Poverty rate: 35.7%
> Unemployment: 3.3%

Idaho residents have some of the lowest incomes in the nation. In Madison County, the state’s poorest county, incomes are even lower. A typical area household earns just $32,052 annually, well below both the state and national income figures. Unlike the poorest county in many other states, the area’s 3.3% unemployment rate is lower than the state and national jobless rates of 4.8% and 6.2%, respectively. Madison is also one of only a few counties on this list where the percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree exceeds the corresponding statewide rate.

13. Jackson County, Illinois
> County median household income:
$32,681
> State median household income: $57,166
> Poverty rate: 32.3%
> Unemployment: 6.6%

Jackson is the poorest county in Illinois. Higher educational attainment typically correlates with higher incomes. However, more than one in three adults in the area have at least a bachelor’s degree, higher than the statewide college attainment rate of 31.9%. As in the poorest counties in most other states, Jackson’s poverty rate of 32.3% is more than double the corresponding statewide rate.

14. Fayette County, Indiana
> County median household income:
$37,833
> State median household income: $48,737
> Poverty rate: 20.6%
> Unemployment: 8.0%

A typical household in Fayette County, Indiana’s poorest, earns $10,904 less than the typical household earns across the state. As in other poor counties, area residents have relatively low educational attainment rates. Only 10.1% of county adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, and 80.1% have earned a high school diploma, each some of the lower percentages in the country.

15. Wapello County, Iowa
> County median household income:
$41,519
> State median household income: $52,716
> Poverty rate: 19.1%
> Unemployment: 5.7%

A typical household in Wapello County, Iowa’s poorest, earns $11,197 less than the typical household does across the state. As in other poor counties, area residents have relatively low educational attainment rates. Only 15.3% of adults in the county have at least a bachelor’s degree, a significantly smaller share than the 26.4% of adults across the state with similar education. Iowa’s poorest county has poverty as well. More than one-quarter of all Wapello children live below the poverty line, a stark contrast to the state’s 16.1% child poverty rate.

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