More than 60% of Americans will spend at least a year of their lives in poverty, according to a recent analysis conducted by a professor of social welfare at Washington University. Since COVID-19 reached the United States in early 2020, the financial situation of millions of Americans has deteriorated, even as a number of the nation’s wealthiest saw their fortunes increase by billions of dollars.
Many Americans owe months of back rent, and many still face an unstable job situation or ongoing unemployment. However, the financial situations of many — especially those who had good financial stability going into the pandemic — likely did not worsen. Based on five-year figures ending in 2019, the most recent year of available data, 13.4% of Americans lived below the federal poverty line. In some parts of the U.S., poverty rates were much lower, and a number of U.S. counties had poverty rates lower than 5%.
To determine the U.S. counties with the lowest poverty rate, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of the percentage of people who live below the poverty line from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. For reference, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services sets the official poverty threshold at an annual income of no more than approximately $26,000 for a family of four.
Economically well-off places can be found all across the country, and the counties with the lowest poverty rates are well distributed. There are 22 different states represented on this list of 50 counties. Virginia does have the largest cluster of these, with seven counties on this list.
While poverty rates do not correspond perfectly with median incomes, counties with lower poverty rates tend to have higher incomes. They of course also tend to have lower shares of residents receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps.