America’s Poorest Towns

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The typical American household income was $57,652 in 2017, more than $6,000 higher than 2009’s median income of $51,425. While incomes have risen for the majority of households since the Great Recession, many American families have been left behind over the last decade — mostly in low- and middle-income areas — as income inequality increased nationwide.

To determine America’s poorest towns, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in every American town with a population of between 1,000 and 25,000. Boroughs, census designated places, cities, towns, and villages were all considered.

Education is one of the largest determinants of income. Individuals with minimal schooling are less likely to work in one of the nation’s highest-paying jobs, and areas where a larger share of the population has lower educational attainment level are less likely to attract advanced industry and commercial activity. In all of the 35 poorest towns — with the exception of Athens, Ohio, where the presence of Ohio University contributes to high college attainment rate — the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is below the national figure of 30.9%.

America’s poorest towns are not just concentrated in the poorest states in the country but can be found in many different states. The 35 places on this list are in 19 different states across the country.

To determine America’s poorest towns, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in every American town with a population of between 1,000 and 25,000. Boroughs, census designated places, cities, towns, and villages were all considered. We excluded towns for which the margin of error at 90% confidence was greater than 10% of either the median household income or the population. Poverty rates, median home values, and the percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree also came from the ACS and are also five-year estimates through 2017.

Click here to see America’s poorest towns.