Special Report

The Worst County To Live In Every State

Source: Roy Luck / Flickr

Montana: Roosevelt County
> Largest place in county: Wolf Point
> 5-yr. population change: +2.9% (state: +4.4%)
> Poverty rate: 28.3% (state: 13.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 17.4% (state: 32.0%)
> Life expectancy at birth: 67.7 years (state: 78.9 years)

Roosevelt County, Montana, is located near the northeast corner of the state largely within the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Due to a number of historical and contemporary factors, many Indian reservations are among the poorest communities in the United States — and Roosevelt County is no exception. An estimated 28.3% of the population live below the poverty line, more than double the 13.1% share of Montana residents.

Health outcomes in the county are also far worse than they are in much of the rest of the state. Life expectancy at birth in Roosevelt is just 67.7 years, over 11 years below the 78.9 year state average. Partially as a result, Roosevelt County ranks as the worst county to live in in Montana.

Source: Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska: Dakota County
> Largest place in county: South Sioux City
> 5-yr. population change: -3.5% (state: +3.2%)
> Poverty rate: 16.2% (state: 11.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 13.0% (state: 31.9%)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.1 years (state: 79.6 years)

Dakota County, located in the northeastern corner of Nebraska, ranks as the worst place to live in the state. Life expectancy in the county, at 79.1 years, is half a year shorter than it is across the state as a whole. Additionally, the local 16.2% poverty rate is among the five highest of the 93 counties in the state and well above the 11.1% poverty rate across Nebraska.

Like many U.S. counties lagging in key socioeconomic indicators, Dakota County’s population is shrinking. Over the last five years, the number of people living there fell by 3.5%, even as Nebraska’s population expanded by 3.2%.

Source: DougLemke / Getty Images

Nevada: Nye County
> Largest place in county: Pahrump
> 5-yr. population change: +3.4% (state: +7.6%)
> Poverty rate: 16.4% (state: 13.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 10.7% (state: 24.7%)
> Life expectancy at birth: 74.2 years (state: 78.7 years)

Of the 17 counties and equivalents in Nevada, Nye County, located along the state’s southern border with California and extending north towards the center of the state, ranks as the worst to live in. At just 74.2 years, life expectancy in Nye County is nearly half a decade lower than it is across Nevada as a whole.

A college education is linked to longer life expectancies, greater financial security, and a stronger sense of control over one’s life. In Nye County, only 10.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, less than half the 24.7% share of adults across Nevada who do.

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

New Hampshire: Coos County
> Largest place in county: Berlin
> 5-yr. population change: -1.4% (state: +2.0%)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (state: 7.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 18.2% (state: 37.0%)
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.3 years (state: 79.7 years)

Coos County covers the northernmost tip of New Hampshire, bordering Canada, Maine, and Vermont. Of the 10 counties in New Hampshire, Coos ranks as the worst to live in. The 12.5% poverty rate in the county is the highest in the state and well above the 7.6% rate across New Hampshire.

Certain health outcomes in Coos County are also worse than every other county in the state. Life expectancy at birth is just 77.3 years, over two years less than the life expectancy across New Hampshire.

Source: Dennis / Flicker

New Jersey: Cumberland County
> Largest place in county: Vineland
> 5-yr. population change: -3.5% (state: +0.05%)
> Poverty rate: 16.5% (state: 10.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 15.6% (state: 39.7%)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.3 years (state: 80.5 years)

Of the 21 counties that make up New Jersey, Cumberland County along the state’s southern border ranks as the worst to live in. The 16.5% local poverty rate means that county residents are the most likely to live below the poverty line in the state. For context, New Jersey’s poverty rate is much lower, at 10.0%.

Cumberland County also has some of the worst health outcomes in the state. Life expectancy at birth in the county is just 75.3 years, over five years below the statewide average.