16. Kansas: Crawford County
> County median household income: $38,017
> State median household income: $55,477
> Poverty rate: 21.1%
> Unemployment rate: 3.5%
Crawford County is located in southeastern Kansas along the Missouri state border. The typical household in Crawford earns just $38,017 a year, the least of any county in the state. More than one in five Crawford County residents live in poverty, and about one in every 10 area households earn less than $10,000 a year.
Many of the counties on this list are home to relatively few college-educated adults, but Crawford is a notable exception. Some 28.9% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, only slightly below the 32.3% statewide and 30.9% nationwide bachelor’s degree attainment rates. The relatively high educational attainment in Crawford County is likely attributable to the presence of Pittsburg State University, a public institution with just under 6,000 students.
17. Kentucky: McCreary County
> County median household income: $19,264
> State median household income: $46,535
> Poverty rate: 41.0%
> Unemployment rate: 5.9%
McCreary County is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest in southern Kentucky along the Tennessee state border. The only county nationwide where most households earn less than $20,000 a year, McCreary is the poorest county in both Kentucky and the United States.
Low incomes are precipitated in part by a weak job market. Unemployment in the county stood at 5.9% as of October 2018, well above the 4.2% state and 3.8% national unemployment rates. Poorer Americans can afford fewer healthy options related to diet and lifestyle, and partially as a result, often have a lower life expectancy. In McCreary County, the average life expectancy at birth of just 73 years is 6 years below the national average.
18. Louisiana: Claiborne Parish
> County median household income: $26,877
> State median household income: $46,710
> Poverty rate: 29.9%
> Unemployment rate: 4.9%
The typical household in Louisiana’s Claiborne Parish earns just $26,877 a year, about $20,000 less than what the typical household in the state earns. Less than 1% of area households earn $200,000 or more a year, and 17.3% earn less than $10,000 a year.
Located in northern Louisiana along the Arkansas state border, Claiborne — like other counties on this list — is shrinking rapidly. In the last five years, the number of people living in Claiborne fell by 4.5%, even as Louisiana’s population grew by 3.0%.
19. Maine: Piscataquis County
> County median household income: $38,797
> State median household income: $53,024
> Poverty rate: 18.7%
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%
The typical household in Piscataquis County, Maine, earns just $38,797 a year, the least of any county in the state and nearly the lowest median household income in the broader New England region. Additionally, 18.7% of county residents live below the poverty line, the second largest share of any New England county.
Like many counties on this list, Piscataquis is a rural county with a declining population. In the last five years, the number of people living there fell by 2.7%. Over the same period, Maine’s population has remained flat.
20. Maryland: Allegany County
> County median household income: $42,771
> State median household income: $78,916
> Poverty rate: 16.8%
> Unemployment rate: 4.8%
Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country. The typical household in the state earns $78,916 a year, about $21,000 more than the typical American household. Even in Allegany County, the poorest county in Maryland, the typical household earns $42,771, in line with the median income of some states. The 16.8% poverty rate in the county is only slightly higher than the 14.6% poverty rate nationwide.
Allegany County is located in northwestern Maryland, sandwiched between West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Wealthier counties in the state are located further south around Washington, D.C.
Sponsored: Tips for Investing
A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.