America’s Poorest Towns

June 6, 2019 by Mike Sauter

Source: jauretsi / Flickr
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.

35. Uniontown, Pennsylvania
> Median household income: $28,867
> Median home value: $83,100
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 13.6%
> Poverty rate: 29.9%

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Source: From the Richard D. Sawyer Historic Greenville Collection, Furman University Special Collections.

34. Dunean, South Carolina
> Median household income: $28,866
> Median home value: $82,800
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.8%
> Poverty rate: 23.2%

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

33. Stigler, Oklahoma
> Median household income: $28,848
> Median home value: $85,000
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 15.2%
> Poverty rate: 30.6%

Source: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

32. Mount Union, Pennsylvania
> Median household income: $28,750
> Median home value: $74,200
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 11.0%
> Poverty rate: 27.3%

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

31. Camden, Tennessee
> Median household income: $28,750
> Median home value: $92,000
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.5%
> Poverty rate: 25.1%

Source: cwsteeds / Flickr

30. Waycross, Georgia
> Median household income: $28,729
> Median home value: $67,700
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.9%
> Poverty rate: 30.9%

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Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

29. Idabel, Oklahoma
> Median household income: $28,595
> Median home value: $73,900
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 15.9%
> Poverty rate: 31.3%

Source: Ken Lund from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA / Wikimedia Commons

28. Nogales, Arizona
> Median household income: $28,264
> Median home value: $117,500
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 14.3%
> Poverty rate: 29.4%

Source: grandriver / Getty Images

27. Sunland Park, New Mexico
> Median household income: $28,231
> Median home value: $104,400
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.8%
> Poverty rate: 38.0%

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Source: gerrydincher / Flickr

26. Laurinburg, North Carolina
> Median household income: $28,187
> Median home value: $98,300
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 20.5%
> Poverty rate: 33.8%

Source: 6381380 / Getty Images

25. Portsmouth, Ohio
> Median household income: $27,943
> Median home value: $74,000
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 14.5%
> Poverty rate: 35.1%

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Source: pasa / Flickr

24. Pagedale, Missouri
> Median household income: $27,720
> Median home value: $55,700
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 8.9%
> Poverty rate: 30.2%

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

23. Tallulah, Louisiana
> Median household income: $27,592
> Median home value: $58,900
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 14.9%
> Poverty rate: 40.5%

Source: Laura Hertzfeld / Wikimedia Commons

22. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
> Median household income: $27,350
> Median home value: $75,300
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.8%
> Poverty rate: 26.3%

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Source: Emmanuel2312 / WikimediaCommons

21. McRae-Helena, Georgia
> Median household income: $27,163
> Median home value: $55,900
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 5.2%
> Poverty rate: 41.5%

Source: lovefishn / Getty Images

20. Clearlake, California
> Median household income: $27,034
> Median home value: $93,900
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 8.4%
> Poverty rate: 35.9%

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Source: Chris Pruitt / Wikimedia Commons

19. Central, South Carolina
> Median household income: $26,623
> Median home value: $106,400
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.3%
> Poverty rate: 40.8%

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. San Benito, Texas
> Median household income: $26,583
> Median home value: $55,100
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 11.7%
> Poverty rate: 37.4%

Source: Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons

17. Belle Glade, Florida
> Median household income: $25,873
> Median home value: $111,400
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 9.5%
> Poverty rate: 39.1%

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Source: 11441121@N04 / Flickr

16. Wewoka, Oklahoma
> Median household income: $25,567
> Median home value: $46,400
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 11.8%
> Poverty rate: 41.7%

Source: SWInsider / Getty Images

15. Deming, New Mexico
> Median household income: $25,428
> Median home value: $87,200
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 15.2%
> Poverty rate: 34.3%

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Source: Parker Botanical / Wikimedia Commons

14. Fredericktown, Missouri
> Median household income: $24,640
> Median home value: $84,500
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 16.7%
> Poverty rate: 28.9%

Source: BeachcottagePhotography / Getty Images

13. Brunswick, Georgia
> Median household income: $24,417
> Median home value: $91,800
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 15.6%
> Poverty rate: 39.0%

Source: Upstateherd / Wikimedia Commons

12. Forest City, North Carolina
> Median household income: $24,383
> Median home value: $88,500
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 14.6%
> Poverty rate: 37.4%

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Source: Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

11. Hamtramck, Michigan
> Median household income: $24,369
> Median home value: $53,900
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.2%
> Poverty rate: 50.9%

Source: OhioOat / Wikimedia Commons

10. Athens, Ohio
> Median household income: $24,326
> Median home value: $177,100
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 63.1%
> Poverty rate: 51.6%

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Source: traveler1116 / Getty Images

9. Selma, Alabama
> Median household income: $24,223
> Median home value: $89,100
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 17.2%
> Poverty rate: 38.3%

Source: Courtesy of Google Maps 2013

8. New Square, New York
> Median household income: $23,924
> Median home value: $338,200
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 3.9%
> Poverty rate: 64.4%

Source: Jupiterimages / Getty Images

7. Johnstown, Pennsylvania
> Median household income: $23,636
> Median home value: $41,500
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 12.0%
> Poverty rate: 37.9%

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

6. Helena-West Helena, Arkansas
> Median household income: $21,667
> Median home value: $75,400
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 11.2%
> Poverty rate: 42.5%

Source: mkkerr / Getty Images

5. Natchitoches, Louisiana
> Median household income: $21,579
> Median home value: $150,800
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 21.8%
> Poverty rate: 44.7%

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Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

4. Bastrop, Louisiana
> Median household income: $21,364
> Median home value: $73,000
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 11.1%
> Poverty rate: 43.5%

Source: jauretsi / Flickr

3. East Cleveland, Ohio
> Median household income: $21,184
> Median home value: $56,800
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 11.9%
> Poverty rate: 40.5%

Source: Dan DeLuca / Wikimedia Commons

2. South Tucson, Arizona
> Median household income: $21,160
> Median home value: $77,700
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 4.2%
> Poverty rate: 46.2%

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Source: Paul Sableman / Flickr

1. Centreville, Illinois
> Median household income: $17,441
> Median home value: $47,900
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 10.5%
> Poverty rate: 48.1%