The Poorest County in Every State

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Source: J.B. Chandler / Wikimedia Commons

26. Montana: Blaine County
> County median household income: $35,506
> State median household income: $50,801
> Poverty rate: 32.7%
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%

Nearly one in every three residents of Blaine County, Montana, live below the poverty line, and a majority area households earn less than $36,000 a year. Poorer areas typically have lower average life expectancies, and in Blaine County, life expectancy at birth is about 76 years, 3 years shy of the national average.

Blaine County is located in northern Montana, between the Canadian border and the Missouri River. The county contains the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, home to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes. About half of the county population identifies as Native American.

Source: 156513724@N05 / Flickr

27. Nebraska: Sheridan County
> County median household income: $41,209
> State median household income: $56,675
> Poverty rate: 15.8%
> Unemployment rate: 2.3%

Sheridan County is located in northwestern Nebraska along the South Dakota state border. The typical household in the county earns just $41,209 a year, $15,000 less than the typical household in Nebraska. In many counties on this list, low incomes are partially attributable to a weak job market. In Sheridan County, however, just 2.3% of workers are unemployed, well below the 2.6% state and 3.8% national unemployment rates.

The county’s low median income is largely attributable to a high concentration of jobs in low-paying industries. For example, 15.8% of workers in the county are employed in farming, hunting, fishing, forestry, and mining occupations. Nationwide, only about 2% of workers are employed in those jobs.

Source: Terry Feuerborn / Flickr

28. Nevada: Nye County
> County median household income: $44,225
> State median household income: $55,434
> Poverty rate: 17.3%
> Unemployment rate: 5.5%

Nye County is located in southern Nevada along the California state border. The typical county household earns $44,225 a year, about $11,000 less than the typical Nevada household. Lower incomes in the county are partially attributable to a lack of jobs. The county’s unemployment rate stands at 5.5%, well above the 4.2% statewide unemployment rate.

Poorer counties often have lower than average educational attainment rates, and Nye County is no exception. Just 11.5% of county adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, less than half the 23.7% share of adults across the state as a whole.

Source: R_Berthiaume / Getty Images

29. New Hampshire: Coos County
> County median household income: $45,386
> State median household income: $71,305
> Poverty rate: 13.3%
> Unemployment rate: 2.4%

Coos County comprises the northernmost point of New Hampshire and borders Vermont to the west, Canada to the north, and Maine to the east. The typical household in the county earns $45,386 a year, about $26,000 less than the typical household in the state.

Still, relative to the nation as a whole, Coos County is not especially poor. Just 13.3% of area residents live below the poverty line, below the 14.6% national poverty rate. Additionally, just 5.2% of households in Coos County earn less than $10,000 a year, a smaller share than the 6.7% of households nationwide.

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30. New Jersey: Cumberland County
> County median household income: $50,000
> State median household income: $76,475
> Poverty rate: 18.8%
> Unemployment rate: 5.1%

With a median annual household income of $76,475 — about $19,000 more than the national median income — New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the country. Even in Cumberland, the poorest county in the state, the typical household earns $50,000 a year, more than the median income in 10 states.

The relatively low median income in Cumberland County is partially attributable to the high jobless rate. The county’s 5.1% October unemployment rate is well above the 3.6% state and 3.8% national rates that month. The county is located in southern New Jersey along the Delaware Bay. More affluent counties in the state are located further north, outside New York City.