Special Report

The 50 Poorest Places in the Country

15. Wanblee, South Dakota
> Poverty rate: 69.1%
> Median household income: $23,250
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 9.8%
> Total population: 975

Wanblee, South Dakota, is a Census designated place in the Pine Ridge Reservation. Nearly all of the 975 local residents are members of the Lakota Sioux tribe. For a variety of historical and contemporary reasons, Native Americans living on reservations are among the most likely groups to face serious economic hardship. In Wanblee, the poverty rate is 69.1%, nearly the highest in the United States.

As is the case in many poor Native American communities, economic opportunities are limited in Wanblee. Only 28.2% of the 16 and older population participate in the labor force, and among those who do, 25.6% are unemployed.

Source: Brian Stansberry / Wikimedia Commons

14. Hayti Heights, Missouri
> Poverty rate: 69.8%
> Median household income: $20,536
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 3.3%
> Total population: 537

Nearly 70% of the population of Hayti Heights, Missouri, live in poverty, higher than any other place in Missouri and one the three poorest in the Midwest. The typical household in the city, which is located in the state’s Bootheel, has an annual income of just $20,536, which is barely one-third the national median household income of $62,843.

A college education is a good indicator of the wealth and earning potential of a population, and those without such education are less likely to work in higher-income jobs and maintain steady employment. In Hayti Heights, just 3.3% of the adult population have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 32.1% of the U.S. 25 and over population.

Source: Alexisrael / Wikimedia Commons

13. Kaser, New York
> Poverty rate: 70.8%
> Median household income: $21,541
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 3.8%
> Total population: 5,262

Kaser, New York, is one of only 14 communities in the United States, excluding college and university towns, where over 70% of the population live below the poverty line.

The village, like many low-income communities, has low educational attainment rates. Just 3.8% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well below the comparable 32.1% national rates.

Source: Jaedza / Wikimedia Commons

12. Las Palmas II, Texas
> Poverty rate: 73.1%
> Median household income: $12,453
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 0.0%
> Total population: 1,783

Las Palmas II is a Census designated place in Texas located near Harlingen on the state’s southern border. It is not to be confused with the CDP of Las Palmas, which is in nearby Zapata County. One of the poorest places in the country, 73.1% of the area’s population live in poverty, and the typical household has an income of just $12,453.

The area is one of the few places in the country where, according to the Census Bureau, none of the population 25 years of age or older have a bachelor’s degree.

Source: Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

11. Highland Holiday, Ohio
> Poverty rate: 73.9%
> Median household income: $21,250
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 0.0%
> Total population: 510

Highland Holiday is an unincorporated community in southern Ohio. One of the poorest places in the United States, Highland Holiday’s poverty rate of 73.9% is five and a half times higher than the national poverty rate.

Low-income areas typically have limited economic opportunities. While in Highland Holiday, unemployment is slightly higher than it is nationwide, a lack of jobs is likely discouraging residents from even looking in the first place. Only 31.6% of the 16 and older population are working or looking for work, half the national labor force participation rate of 63.4%.

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