Special Report

Poorest Town in Every State

Source: Connor401 / Wikimedia Commons

South Dakota: Sisseton
> Median household income: $38,500 (state: $54,126)
> Poverty rate: 22.8% (state: 13.9%)
> Median home value: $70,100 (state: $152,700)
> Population: 2,548

In Sisseton, more than one in every five residents rely on SNAP benefits, more than double the 10.6% SNAP recipiency rate across the state as a whole. The greater than typical dependence on government benefits is due to the relatively large number of low-income residents. Half of all Sisseton households earn $38,500 or less a year, and 8.4% of households earn less than $10,000 a year.

Native American Indian reservations have some of the worst economic conditions in the United States, and Sisseton, South Dakota, is located entirely within the Lake Tahoe Reservation in the northeastern corner of the state.

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Source: Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) / Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee: Camden
> Median household income: $28,750 (state: $48,708)
> Poverty rate: 25.1% (state: 16.7%)
> Median home value: $92,000 (state: $151,700)
> Population: 3,554

Camden, a small town in northwestern Tennessee, is the only town reviewed in the state where most households earn less than $30,000 a year. The typical Tennessee household earns $48,708 a year, about $20,000 more than the median income in Camden, but about $9,000 below the median nationwide. The area’s low incomes are profoundly detrimental to the quality of life of a large share of residents, as more than one in every four live below the poverty line — nearly 10 percentage points higher than the state poverty rate of 16.7%.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Texas: San Benito
> Median household income: $26,583 (state: $57,051)
> Poverty rate: 37.4% (state: 16.0%)
> Median home value: $55,100 (state: $151,500)
> Population: 24,474

San Benito is a southern Texas town just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It is the only town in Texas where most households earn less than $30,000 a year.

Texas is one of the largest states both by geography and population — and incomes vary considerably from town to town. In University Park, the wealthiest town in the state, the typical household earns $211,741 a year, eight times as much as the typical household in San Benito. Incomes typically go up with educational attainment, and in San Benito, just 11.7% of adult residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to a near nation-leading 87.2% bachelor’s degree attainment rate in University Park.

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Source: SSLaker3 / Wikimedia Commons

Utah: South Salt Lake
> Median household income: $41,457 (state: $65,325)
> Poverty rate: 22.5% (state: 11.0%)
> Median home value: $184,200 (state: $238,300)
> Population: 24,722

South Salt Lake, Utah, is a small city within the broader Salt Lake City metro area. Compared to other similarly sized towns, South Salt Lake’s 22.5% poverty rate is by far the highest in the state and more than double Utah’s 11.0% poverty rate. The typical household in South Salt Lake earns $41,457 a year — about $24,000 less than the typical Utah household and $16,000 less than the typical American household.

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Vermont: St. Johnsbury
> Median household income: $36,958 (state: $57,808)
> Poverty rate: 15.0% (state: 11.4%)
> Median home value: $148,800 (state: $220,600)
> Population: 5,789

St. Johnsbury is a small town in northern Vermont along the I-91 corridor. The typical household in St. Johnsbury earns just $36,958 a year, the least of any town of comparable size in the state and well below Vermont’s median annual household income of $57,808. Despite the area’s low incomes, relatively few residents face serious financial hardship. St. Johnsbury’s poverty rate of 15.0%, while the highest in the state, is only slightly worse than the 14.6% national poverty rate.

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