Special Report

Poorest County in Each State

21. Berkshire County, Massachusetts
> County median household income:
$49,737
> State median household income: $67,846
> Poverty rate: 12.7%
> Unemployment: 6.5%

Berkshire, the westernmost county in Massachusetts, is the poorest in the state. A typical household in Berkshire County earns nearly $50,000 annually. While this figure is considerably lower than the state’s median household income of $67,846, it is not substantially lower than the median household income of American households of $53,482.

22. Lake County, Michigan
> County median household income:
$28,872
> State median household income: $49,087
> Poverty rate: 30.5%
> Unemployment: 11.0%

A typical household in Lake County, Michigan’s poorest, earns $20,215 less than the typical household across the state. As in other poor counties, area residents have relatively low educational attainment rates. Only 9.2% of adults in the county have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to a 26.4% college attainment rate throughout the state. Low incomes in Michigan’s poorest county accompany an especially high child poverty rate. As many as 51.4% of Lake County children are impoverished compared to 23.7% of children throughout the state.

23. Wadena County, Minnesota
> County median household income:
$38,661
> State median household income: $60,828
> Poverty rate: 17.2%
> Unemployment: 6.1%

Minnesota’s poverty rate of 11.5% is one of the lowest rate among all states. However, in Wadena, the state’s poorest county, 17.2% of people live in poverty, higher than the national poverty rate of 15.6%. The typical household in Wadena earns $38,661 annually, much lower than the state and national median incomes of $60,828 and $53,482, respectively.

24. Holmes County, Mississippi
> County median household income:
$21,399
> State median household income: $39,464
> Poverty rate: 43.9%
> Unemployment: 15.8%

Mississippi’s median annual household income of $39,464 is the lowest in the nation. A typical household in Holmes County earns barely half that figure at $21,399. Holmes County also has one of the nation’s highest poverty rates at 43.9%. By contrast, 22.6% of people across the state, and 15.6% of Americans, live in poverty. Low incomes and prevalent poverty accompany high unemployment in Holmes. Holmes County’s 15.8% unemployment rate is significantly higher than the 7.8% statewide and 6.2% national unemployment rates.

25. Mississippi County, Missouri
> County median household income:
$28,436
> State median household income: $47,764
> Poverty rate: 29.7%
> Unemployment: 7.3%

The median household income in Mississippi County of $28,436 is $19,328 less than the state’s median income of $47,764, which itself is lower than the national income. The low incomes partially explain the area’s widespread poverty. As many as 45.3% of Mississippi County children live in poverty, more than double the state and national rates of 21.5% and 21.9%, respectively. Of all people in the area, nearly 30% earn poverty level wages.