Median household income has climbed steadily in the United States since 2014, hitting an all time high of over $63,000 in 2018. In a country of over 330 million people, however, the national median income does not often reflect incomes at the local level and the day-to-day financial reality of many Americans.
How much a typical household earns varies considerably from state to state — from as little as $43,600 in Mississippi to as much as nearly $82,000 in Maryland — and the difference can be even greater across communities and municipalities within states. In nearly every state, even some of the wealthiest, there is at least one county where the where the median household income is lower than the national median.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median household income in over 2,000 counties and county equivalents nationwide to identify the poorest county in each state.
Many of the counties on this list are relatively small and rural — and the low median income in these places is attributable in part to a lack of jobs. In the vast majority of the counties on this list, the unemployment rate is higher than it is across the state as a whole. Several counties on this list rank among those with the worst jobless rates nationwide. Here is a look at the 50 counties with the highest unemployment.
The weak job markets and low incomes in these counties often means real financial hardship for many who live there. Often in these counties, large segments of the population lack the financial resources to meet even basic standards of living — as evidenced by the high poverty rates. All but four of the poorest counties in each state have a higher poverty rate than the 14.1% national rate, and in 18 of these counties, the poverty rate is at least double the national rate. Here is a state by state look at how much money a family needs in order to avoid poverty.
Click here to see the poorest county in every state.
Click here to see our methodology.
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