Special Report

The Poorest County in Every State

Source: Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

6. Colorado: Otero County
> County median household income: $35,051
> State median household income: $65,458
> Poverty rate: 22.9%
> Unemployment rate: 4.4%

Otero, a small county of fewer than 19,000 residents located in southeastern Colorado, is the poorest of the 64 counties in the state. The typical household in the county earns just $35,051 a year, more than $30,000 below what the typical house in the state earns. Additionally, 22.9% of county residents live below the poverty line, roughly double the 11.5% statewide poverty rate.

Property values are typically a reflection of what area residents can afford, and in Otero County, the majority of homes are worth less than $100,000. For reference, the typical home in Colorado is worth $286,100.

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Source: JJBers / Flickr

7. Connecticut: Windham County
> County median household income: $62,553
> State median household income: $73,781
> Poverty rate: 11.1%
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%

Connecticut’s median annual household income of $73,781 is over $16,000 higher than the national median. A relatively wealthy state, Connecticut’s poorest county, Windham, has a higher median income than most states. Windham County is located in the northeastern corner of the state, along the Massachusetts and Rhode Island state borders and has a median income of $62,553 a year.

Despite a low median income relative to the other seven counties in Connecticut, only a small share of Windham County residents are struggling financially. Just 5.8% of households earn less than $10,000 a year, less than the 6.7% share nationwide.

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8. Delaware: Kent County
> County median household income: $57,647
> State median household income: $63,036
> Poverty rate: 13.0%
> Unemployment rate: 3.8%

Of the three counties in Delaware, Kent is the poorest. The typical household in Kent County earns $57,647 a year, nearly $11,000 less than the typical household in New Castle, its neighboring county to the north.

Delaware is a relatively wealthy state, and despite ranking as the poorest county in the state, Kent County’s median income is in line with national median income of $57,652. The county’s poverty rate of 13.0% is lower than the national poverty rate of 14.6%.

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9. Florida: Madison County
> County median household income: $31,816
> State median household income: $50,883
> Poverty rate: 31.9%
> Unemployment rate: 3.3%

Madison County, located about 50 miles east of Tallahassee, is the poorest county in Florida. About 15% of households in the county earn less than $10,000 a year, more than double the 7.2% share of households statewide. The typical county household earns $31,816 a year, $19,000 less than the typical Florida household and less than half the median income of $73,640 in St. Johns County, Florida’s wealthiest county.

Many low-income counties are losing residents rapidly, and Madison County is no exception. In the last five years, the county’s population shrank by 3.5%, even as Florida’s population as a whole grew by 7.4%.

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Source: Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) / Wikimedia Commons

10. Georgia: Telfair County
> County median household income: $28,044
> State median household income: $52,977
> Poverty rate: 27.7%
> Unemployment rate: 5.8%

Telfair County is the poorest county in Georgia and one of the poorest counties in the United States. The typical household in the county earns $28,044 a year, well below the median annual household income of $52,977 in Georgia and the $57,652 median nationwide. Low incomes in the area are partially a product of a weak job market. The unemployment rate in Telfair County stands at 5.8%, far higher than the 3.6% unemployment rate across Georgia as a whole.

Lower-income Americans have access to fewer healthy options related to diet and lifestyle as well as less access to health care. Partially as a result, life expectancy is often lower in low-income areas. In Telfair County, life expectancy at birth is 76 years, 3 years shy of the national life expectancy.

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