Special Report

The 50 Poorest Places in the Country

Source: kallahar / Wikimedia Commons

50. Strathmore, California
> Poverty rate: 60.1%
> Median household income: $25,500
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 6.4%
> Total population: 3,033

The Strathmore Census designated place in California is one of the 50 poorest places in the country, with a poverty rate of 60.1%. The typical household in Strathmore, which is located Tulare County in the state’s Central Valley, has an annual income of $25,500, which is about $37,300 less than the national median household income.

Those with higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to earn higher wages and hold steadier employment. In Strathmore, just 6.4% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 32.1% of American adults.

49. Niland, California
> Poverty rate: 60.1%
> Median household income: $21,330
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 0.0%
> Total population: 631

Niland is a small unincorporated community in southern California about one hour north of the Mexican border. A little over 60% of the local population lives below the poverty line, more than four times the national poverty rate of 13.4%.

In June 2020, Niland was devastated by a wildfire that destroyed nearly 40 homes, exacerbating conditions in an area where many were already struggling financially.

Source: Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons

48. Palmona Park, Florida
> Poverty rate: 60.7%
> Median household income: $22,257
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 5.1%
> Total population: 1,209

Palmona Park is a small Census designated place in Florida’s Fort Myers metro area. Most households in the area earn less than $23,000 a year, and 60.7% of local residents live below the poverty line.

Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and in areas like Palmona Park, where large shares of residents are struggling financially, relatively few people have a postsecondary education. Just 5.1% of the 25 and older residents in Palmona Park have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 32.1% of adults nationwide who do.

Source: theresajam1 / Getty Images

47. Scissors, Texas
> Poverty rate: 60.9%
> Median household income: $22,887
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 5.5%
> Total population: 3,594

Scissors is a small unincorporated community near the southern tip of Texas. Nearly 61% of the local population lives on poverty level income. Widespread poverty often goes hand-in-hand with joblessness, and in Scissors, an average of 10.4% of the labor force have been unemployed in the last five years.

A high school education is prerequisite for most gainful employment opportunities. In Scissors, just 38.1% of the 25 and older population have a high school diploma or equivalent. Nationwide, 88% of the 25 and older population do.

46. Rosedale, Mississippi
> Poverty rate: 60.9%
> Median household income: $15,615
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 6.1%
> Total population: 1,627

Rosedale, Mississippi, is one of the poorest cities in the United States. An estimated 60.9% of residents of the Mississippi River Delta city live below the poverty line, compared to 13.4% of Americans nationwide.

Economically struggling places like Rosedale are not typically attractive communities for new residents or families. Like many American cities where poverty is prevalent, Rosedale’s population is declining. As recently as 1980, there were nearly 3,000 people living in Rosedale. Now there are around 1,600.

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