Special Report

The Poorest County in Every State

Most American households earn more than $62,800 annually, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. While it is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, the U.S. also has some of the worst income inequality. As a result, the national median income does not reflect the economic struggles of millions of Americans.

In nearly every state, there are counties or county equivalents where the median household income is well below the $62,843 national median. In half of all states there is at least one county where the median annual household income is less than $40,000. Using five-year estimates from the 2019 American Community Survey from the Census, 24/7 Wall St. identified the poorest county in every state.

While there are several notable exceptions, many of the counties on this list are relatively rural and far removed from major metropolitan areas that often serve as hubs of economic activity. 

While much of the country is facing an unemployment crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the job markets in the counties on this list have often been hit even harder than most other nearby counties. In 35 of the 50 counties on this list, the unemployment rate exceeds the comparable statewide jobless rate. Here is a look at the cities with the worst COVID-19 unemployment crisis right now

It is no coincidence that many of the counties on this list are also home to relatively small college-educated populations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $64,896 annually working full time. Meanwhile, workers with no more than a high school diploma earn just $38,792 per year. All but two counties on this list have a lower bachelor’s degree attainment rate than their respective state. Here is a look at the most and least educated states in the country.

Click here to see the poorest county in every state.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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