The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the federal poverty level in the continental United States today at $12,880 for individuals, $26,500 for families of four. (The thresholds are slightly higher for Alaska and Hawaii.)
No government agency undertakes to define wealth, however. What’s the best measure of affluence? Annual income? Net worth? Lifetime earning potential? Merriam-Webster defines it as an “abundance of valuable material possessions or resources,” and that seems as good a definition as any (as long as you leave out other kinds of wealth, like the richness of good health, good relationships, or breadth of experience) You may be astonished, though, at the extent of the abundance enjoyed by the richest person of all time from your state.
In determining the richest places in the South, 24/7 Wall St. has ranked the median household income in the approximately 20,000 places with 500 or more residents using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.
We also reviewed the percentage of homes valued above $200,000 and — adding in education level, which is closely tied to earning potential — the number of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree. All data are 5-year averages through 2019. We only considered places where less than 25% of the population are enrolled in college or graduate school, as the presence of a large student population can skew income statistics.
The wealthiest states in the region, by these measures, are Texas and Maryland, with eight and nine of the entries on this list, respectively. Kentucky and Florida are home to two of the richest places each, while Oklahoma, Louisiana, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina appear with one apiece. Note, though, that the top 12 places share first place in terms of median household income.