Special Report

Poorest Town in Every State

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

Kentucky: Paducah
> Median household income: $35,419 (state: $48,392)
> Poverty rate: 22.3% (state: 17.9%)
> Median home value: $117,900 (state: $135,300)
> Population: 24,879

Paducah is a small city in western Kentucky located along the southern bank of the Ohio River. The typical Paducah household earns just $35,419 a year, well below the median income statewide of $48,392. Poverty is also more concentrated in Paducah than it is across the state as a whole. More than 22% of the local population lives below the poverty line, compared to about 18% of all Kentucky residents.

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Louisiana: Natchitoches
> Median household income: $21,854 (state: $47,942)
> Poverty rate: 46.8% (state: 19.4%)
> Median home value: $156,000 (state: $157,800)
> Population: 18,080

Natchitoches is the poorest place in one of the poorest states. Most households in Louisiana earn less than $48,000 a year, while most households nationwide earn over $60,000. In Natchitoches, most households earn less than $22,000 a year. Serious financial hardship is widespread in the city as nearly half of the area’s 18,000 residents live below the poverty line.

Despite the area’s low incomes, property values in Natchitoches closely match what is typical across the state as a whole. The median home value in the area is $156,000 — only slightly less than the typical home value across Louisiana of $157,800.

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Maine: Presque Isle
> Median household income: $37,401 (state: $55,425)
> Poverty rate: 22.0% (state: 12.5%)
> Median home value: $107,000 (state: $184,500)
> Population: 9,162

Presque Isle is a small city of approximately 9,200 residents located in Aroostook County in northern Maine. The typical Presque Isle household earns just $37,401 a year, the least of any similarly-sized place in Maine and far less than the state median household income of $55,425.

Individuals with higher educational attainment are more likely to have advanced, high-paying jobs and have higher incomes overall. In Presque Isle, just 23.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, the third smallest share of any smaller community in Maine and far less than the 30.9% state college attainment rate.

Source: John M. Chase / Getty Images

Maryland: Cumberland
> Median household income: $34,750 (state: $81,868)
> Poverty rate: 22.6% (state: 9.4%)
> Median home value: $93,000 (state: $305,500)
> Population: 19,845

Cumberland, Maryland, is the poorest place in the wealthiest state. Most households in Cumberland earn just $34,750 a year — less than half the median income of $81,868 across Maryland, the highest of any state.

Cumberland was once a prosperous city, serving as a major transportation and industrial hub and as the second largest manufacturing center in the state. Economic conditions have declined in recent decades, however, likely contributing to a mass exodus. The city’s population peaked at about 39,500 in 1940. Now, after contracting by 4.2% in the last five years alone, Cumberland’s population stands at less than 20,000.

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Massachusetts: North Adams
> Median household income: $39,411 (state: $77,378)
> Poverty rate: 17.5% (state: 10.8%)
> Median home value: $144,300 (state: $366,800)
> Population: 13,089

North Adams, Massachusetts, is a former industrial hub that has undergone decades of economic decline. Massachusetts is a relatively high-income state, and North Adams is the only community with a population between 1,000 and 25,000 statewide where most households earn less than $40,000 a year.

Like many post-industrial American cities, North Adams is reinventing itself as a tourist destination, taking advantage of the scenic beauty of the mountainous and rural Berkshire region where it is located.

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