Special Report

The Poorest Town in Every State

Connecticut: Groton
> Median household income: $53,750 (state: $76,106)
> Poverty rate: 13.7% (state: 10.0%)
> Median home value: $207,900 (state: $272,700)
> Population: 9,109

With a median household income of $76,106 — about $16,000 more than the national median — Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the country. Not all parts of the state have higher income than the national median, however. In Groton, located in south-central Connecticut along the Long Island Sound, most households earn less than $54,000 a year.

Still, despite the relatively lower median income, serious financial hardship is not especially common in Groton. Just 13.7% of area residents live below the poverty line, below the 14.1% U.S. poverty rate.

Delaware: New Castle
> Median household income: $63,573 (state: $65,627)
> Poverty rate: 6.5% (state: 11.9%)
> Median home value: $195,400 (state: $244,700)
> Population: 5,359

Delaware is the only state in the country where the poorest place with a population between 1,000 and 25,000 has a higher median income than the U.S. median as a whole. The median annual household income in New Castle of $63,573 is the lowest median household income of any similarly sized place in the state. It is only slightly below the statewide median of $65,627 and above the national median of $60,293.

Despite slightly lower than average incomes, relatively few residents are in a dire financial situation. Just 6.5% of New Castle residents live below the poverty line, compared to 11.9% of Delaware residents and 14.1% of Americans nationwide.

Source: Warren-Pender / Getty Images

Florida: Avon Park
> Median household income: $30,675 (state: $53,267)
> Poverty rate: 33.0% (state: 14.8%)
> Median home value: $68,400 (state: $196,800)
> Population: 10,386

Avon Park is the poorest place in Florida and one of the poorest places in the United States. The city, centrally located in the state and home to about 10,000 people, has a median household income of just $30,675, well below the statewide median of $53,267 and about half the national median income. Additionally, nearly one-third of area residents live below the poverty line — more than double both the state and national poverty rates.

Property values in Avon Park reflect the area’s low incomes. The typical area home is worth just $68,400 — less than half the value of the typical home in the state of $196,800.

Source: Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) / Wikimedia Commons

Georgia: Fort Valley
> Median household income: $23,542 (state: $55,679)
> Poverty rate: 38.3% (state: 16.0%)
> Median home value: $78,700 (state: $166,800)
> Population: 8,740

Georgia’s poorest small city — Fort Valley — is also one of the poorest places in the United States. Most households in Fort Valley earn less than $24,000 a year, and 38.3% of the city’s 8,740 residents live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, most households in Georgia earn over $55,000 a year and just 16.0% of the state population lives below the poverty line.

The area’s lack of economic opportunity may be pushing people out of Fort Valley. In the last five years, the city’s population has contracted by 9.2%. Meanwhile, Georgia’s population grew by 5.0% over the same period.

Black Americans are more than twice as likely as white Americans to live in poverty in the United States, and more than 75% of the city’s residents are black, one of the highest shares of any place in the state.

Source: scotnelson / Flickr

Hawaii: Waianae
> Median household income: $59,213 (state: $78,084)
> Poverty rate: 27.8% (state: 9.9%)
> Median home value: $360,800 (state: $587,700)
> Population: 14,054

Hawaii has one of the highest household incomes among states in the country. Most households in the state earn over $78,000 a year — about $28,000 more than the median household income nationwide. Even in Waianae, the lowest-income place in the state, the typical household earns $59,213, in line with the national median of $60,293.

Even though Waianae’s median household income is not especially low in the context of the U.S. as a whole, a disproportionately large share of area residents are in a dire financial situation. A staggering 27.8% of the Waianae population lives below the poverty line, nearly triple the 9.9% state poverty rate and nearly double the 14.1% national poverty rate.