Special Report

Poorest Town in Every State

16. Fort Scott, Kansas
> Town median household income: $31,592
> State median household income: $52,205
> Town poverty rate: 21.7%
> Town population: 7,893

Home values typically reflect the relative wealth of a region’s population, particularly in smaller towns. With a population of less than 8,000, the typical home is worth In Fort Scott, the poorest town in Kansas, is worth just $67,200. In contrast, the state’s median home value is $132,000, and the national median home value is $178,600.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

17. Harrodsburg, Kentucky
> Town median household income: $30,240
> State median household income: $43,740
> Town poverty rate: 28.9%
> Town population: 8,380

Some 17.3% of Kentucky residents rely on government assistance in the form of food stamps, one of the highest recipiency rates of all states. In Harrodsburg, the poorest town in the state, more than one in every five people receive food stamps. Like many other towns on this list, adults in Harrodsburg are less likely to have completed high school or get a college education than adults across the state as a whole.

18. Opelousas, Louisiana
> Town median household income: $20,434
> State median household income: $45,047
> Town poverty rate: 41.9%
> Town population: 16,638

Opelousas is the poorest town in Louisiana and one of the poorest nationwide. Approximately 42% of the area’s 16,638 residents live below the poverty line, more than double the state’s poverty rate and nearly three times the national poverty rate of 15.5%. As might be expected, a large share of Opelousas’ households receive government aid. Nearly one-third the town’s population received in the past year SNAP benefits — formerly food stamps — compared to about 16% of state residents.

19. Houlton, Maine
> Town median household income: $32,131
> State median household income: $49,331
> Town poverty rate: 20.4%
> Town population: 4,778

Situated along the U.S.-Canada border and the northernmost tip of Interstate 95, Houlton is the poorest town in Maine. The typical Houlton household earns just $32,131 a year, far less than both the statewide median annual household income of $49,331 and the national median of $53,889. Earning potential in the area is likely suppressed by a low college attainment rate. Just 17.4% of the town’s adults have a bachelor’s degree, a smaller share than the statewide college attainment rate of 29.0%.

Source: Acroterion / Wikimedia Commons

20. Cumberland, Maryland
> Town median household income: $30,275
> State median household income: $74,551
> Town poverty rate: 25.1%
> Town population: 20,449

In Cumberland, the poorest town in Maryland, about one in four residents live in poverty, more than double the 10% statewide poverty rate. With such pervasive financial hardship, a much larger than average share of residents rely on government assistance to meet their basic needs. Some 28.7% of town residents receive food stamps, well more than double the statewide 10.9% recipiency rate.