Special Report

The County in Every State Where the Most People Live Below the Poverty Line

Methodology

To determine the county with the highest poverty rate in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of the percentage of people that live below the poverty line from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

Of the 3,220 counties or county equivalents, 3,141 had boundaries that fell within one of the 50 states, while the rest were in the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico.

Counties were excluded if poverty rates were not available in the 2019 ACS, if the population for which the poverty status had been determined was less than 1,000, if 25% or more of a county’s population were enrolled in undergraduate, professional, or graduate school during the same period, or if the sampling error associated with a county’s data was deemed too high.

The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a county’s poverty rate was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all counties’ poverty rates. We similarly excluded counties that had a sampling error too high for their population for which poverty status had been determined, using the same definition.

The remaining 2,984 places were ranked within their state based on their poverty rates. Additional information on the number of people living below the poverty line, median household income, and the share of households receiving SNAP benefits are also five-year estimates from the 2019 ACS.