Special Report

The Poorest County in Every State

Source: Don Barrett / Flickr

6. Alamosa County, Colorado
> County median household income: $32,385
> State median household income: $62,520
> Poverty rate: 31.4%
> Nov. unemployment: 3.3%

The typical household in Colorado earns $62,520 a year, the 12th highest median household income of any state. In some parts of Colorado, however, incomes are far lower. There are a dozen counties, mostly in the southern half of the state, where the annual median household income is below $45,000. In the poorest, Alamosa County, the typical household earns just $32,385 a year, nearly half the statewide figure and far less than the national median household income of $55,322. Some 31.4% of Alamosa County residents live in poverty, also the largest share in the state.

Source: JJBers / Flickr

7. Windham County, Connecticut
> County median household income: $60,689
> State median household income: $71,755
> Poverty rate: 11.2%
> Nov. unemployment: 4.5%

The typical household in Connecticut earns $71,755 a year, the fifth highest median income of any state. While Windham is the poorest county in the state, the county’s annual median household income of $60,689 is higher than the national median of $55,322.

Windham County is one of the more rural counties in Connecticut and lacks much of the economic activity of wealthier parts of the state. The area, also called the Quiet Corner, is known for its small towns and small scale dairy farms. The area also suffered from the decline of the manufacturing industry that has left many locals without a job. Some 4.5% of the Windham County workforce are unemployed, a larger share than the 4.3% statewide jobless rate.

Source: Mobilus In Mobili / Flickr

8. Sussex County, Delaware
> County median household income: $54,218
> State median household income: $61,017
> Poverty rate: 12.9%
> Nov. unemployment: 4.5%

Delaware consists of just three counties: Sussex, Kent, and New Castle. Sussex County is the poorest in the state, followed closely by Kent County. The typical Sussex County household earns $54,218 a year, far less than the median household income in New Castle County of $66,283 yet roughly in line with the national median of $55,322. One factor contributing to the income disparity among the wealthiest and poorest county in Delaware may be the difference in educational attainment. While just 23.9% of adults in Sussex County have a bachelor’s degree some 35.4% of New Castle County adults do, the largest share in Delaware.

Source: Paul Clark / Flickr

9. Madison County, Florida
> County median household income: $29,806
> State median household income: $48,900
> Poverty rate: 28.5%
> Nov. unemployment: 4.2%

The typical household in Madison County, Florida earns only $29,806 a year, about $19,000 less than the median income across the state as a whole. Both on an individual level and across broad populations, educational attainment is one of the best predictors of income, as those with a college education are more likely to secure higher paying jobs. In Madison County, only 12.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, less than half the 27.9% of adults across the state and the 30.3% of American adults.

Source: J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

10. Telfair County, Georgia
> County median household income: $27,657
> State median household income: $51,037
> Poverty rate: 28.7%
> Nov. unemployment: 7.0%

While Telfair County was a major agricultural hub in the 19th century, today it is the poorest county in Georgia. The county experienced substantial population decline throughout the 20th century, and the number of residents in the area has only recently surpassed the 1920 peak of 15,291 residents. The population increase was in part due to the opening of two prisons — Telfair State Prison in 1992 and McRae Correctional Institution in 2000 — which today are two of the four largest employers in the county. While prisons have provided some residents with gainful employment, some 7.0% of the Telfair County workforce is unemployed, the highest unemployment rate in the state and among the highest in the country. The typical county household earns just $27,657 a year, less than half the median household income of $55,322 nationwide and the lowest of any county in Georgia. Low incomes may also be due in part to the county’s large prison population.