Poorest Town in Every State

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Source: Mojo Hand / Wikimedia Commons

Virginia: Bensley
> Median household income: $37,692 (state: $68,766)
> Poverty rate: 29.8% (state: 11.2%)
> Median home value: $131,300 (state: $255,800)
> Population: 6,363

The typical household in Bensley, a small Census designated place just south of Richmond, earns just $37,692 a year, about $31,000 less than the typical Virginia household. Bensley also has the highest poverty rate in the state at 29.8%, which is nearly triple Virginia’s 11.2% poverty rate.

High school dropouts typically earn less than half the income college graduates earn a year. In Bensley, only about a third of adults have a high school diploma, compared to 89% of adults across the state as a whole.

Source: CDA Catherine dee Auvil / Wikimedia Commons

Washington: Chewelah
> Median household income: $31,858 (state: $66,174)
> Poverty rate: 20.0% (state: 12.2%)
> Median home value: $136,200 (state: $286,800)
> Population: 2,601

Chewelah is a small city of less than 3,000 in northeast Washington. The typical household in Chewelah earns just $31,858 a year, less than half the median income of $66,174 across the state as a whole. Incomes typically rise with educational attainment, and in Chewelah, just 16.9% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, less than half the 34.5% share of adults in Washington.

Source: Tim Kiser (w:User:Malepheasant) / Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia: Beckley
> Median household income: $39,695 (state: $44,061)
> Poverty rate: 20.2% (state: 17.8%)
> Median home value: $114,300 (state: $111,600)
> Population: 16,963

West Virginia’s median annual household income of $44,061 is among the lowest of all states and about $13,600 less than the median household income nationwide. In Beckley, a small city in southern West Virginia, the typical household earns less than $40,000 a year. Beckley is also the only town in the state where more than one in every five residents live below the poverty line.

Wisconsin: Whitewater
> Median household income: $31,827 (state: $56,759)
> Poverty rate: 40.2% (state: 12.3%)
> Median home value: $164,400 (state: $169,300)
> Population: 14,762

Whitewater, a small town in southern Wisconsin, has a median annual household income of $31,827, the lowest of any town of comparable size in the state. For reference, the typical Wisconsin household earns $56,759 a year. Whitewater’s poverty rate of 40.2% is also by far the highest in the state and more than triple Wisconsin’s 12.3% poverty rate.

The low incomes in Whitewater are likely attributable to the large share of full-time students. There are currently about 13,000 students enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater.

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

Wyoming: Wheatland
> Median household income: $46,924 (state: $60,938)
> Poverty rate: 4.8% (state: 11.1%)
> Median home value: $166,200 (state: $204,900)
> Population: 3,617

Wheatland is a small town in southeastern Wyoming. It is the only town in the state where most households earn less than $50,000 a year. Despite a low median household income, relatively few area residents face serious financial hardship. Just 4.8% of the town’s 3,617 residents live below the poverty line. Across the state as a whole, 11.1% of the population lives in poverty.

Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and as is often the case, Wyoming’s poorest town is also its least educated. Just 18.6% of adults in Wheatland have a bachelor’s degree, below the 26.7% of adults statewide.