Special Report

The Poorest County in Every State

Source: Karen / Flickr

16. Crawford County, Kansas
> County median household income: $37,607
> State median household income: $53,571
> Poverty rate: 21.8%
> Nov. unemployment: 3.8%

Crawford County, located in the southeastern corner of Kansas near the state’s border with Missouri, is the poorest county in the state with a median household income of about $37,600 a year. The county is home to the city of Pittsburg and to smaller communities like Girard and Frontenac. While the poorest areas often have the lowest college attainment rates, some 28.4% of Crawford County adults have a bachelor’s degree — one of the highest shares of any Kansas county.

Source: cmh2315fl / Flickr

17. McCreary County, Kentucky
> County median household income: $18,972
> State median household income: $44,811
> Poverty rate: 42.5%
> Nov. unemployment: 5.6%

Kentucky is one of the five poorest states in the country, and McCreary County, forming part of the state’s southern border with Tennessee, is the poorest in the state. The county’s median annual household income is $18,972, well below both the comparable state and national median incomes. An astounding 42.5% of the county’s 17,850 residents live in poverty, which is not only the highest poverty rate in the state, but also nearly the highest of any county in the country.

Source: Anthony George / Flickr

18. Madison Parish, Louisiana
> County median household income: $25,404
> State median household income: $45,652
> Poverty rate: 39.6%
> Nov. unemployment: 7.0%

The poorest parish in one of the poorest states, the typical household in Madison Parish earns just $25,404 a year — far less than the $45,652 state and $55,332 national median incomes, and the 11th least of any U.S. county with at least 10,000 residents. Some 39.6% of Madison Parish residents live in poverty, also the largest share in Louisiana and the seventh highest poverty rate nationwide. The region’s low incomes are likely tied to high unemployment in the area. The most recent monthly unemployment rate in Madison was 7.0%, far higher than 3.2% state and 4.1% national rates.

Source: David Wilson / Flickr

19. Piscataquis County, Maine
> County median household income: $36,938
> State median household income: $50,826
> Poverty rate: 20.6%
> Nov. unemployment: 4.3%

Regional inequalities are stark in Maine, with wealthy towns and cities on the southern coast in places like Kennebunkport and Elizabethtown, while rural poverty characterizes large parts of the state going inland. Piscataquis County, one of the largest in the Northeast — it is approximately the size of Connecticut — is the poorest in the state. Approximately 1 in 5 residents report incomes below the poverty level. Additionally, the typical household in the county earns only $36,938 a year, about $14,000 less than the typical household across the state.

Source: Chesapeake Bay Program / Flickr

20. Somerset County, Maryland
> County median household income: $35,886
> State median household income: $76,067
> Poverty rate: 25.1%
> Nov. unemployment: 6.8%

Maryland is home to some of the country’s wealthiest counties, such as Montgomery and Howard County in the D.C. metro area. It is also home to one of the poorest counties — Somerset County, located on the southeastern side of the Chesapeake Bay. The typical Somerset household earns less than half the income of the typical Maryland household. Over 1 in 4 Somerset residents live in poverty, the largest share in the state.

Education is one of the major determinants of income. Just 79.2% of Somerset County adults have a high school diploma, the smallest share in Maryland and far less than the 87.0% national share. Similarly, just 14.0% of county adults have a bachelor’s degree, less than half the 30.3% national share and the least of any county in Maryland.