Special Report

America's Poorest Towns

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, the typical American household earns an estimated $64,994 annually. In dozens of small towns across the country, however, most households are earning only a fraction of that amount.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed ACS data on median household income for nearly 13,000 communities nationwide to identify America’s 50 poorest towns. For the purposes of this story, towns are defined as places with populations between 1,000 and 25,000. 

Among the towns on this list, median household incomes range from $20,750 on the upper range down to less than $12,500 on the lower end. Similarly, in each town on this list, the poverty rate is more than double the national rate of 12.8% – even topping 60% in some cases. 

Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment in the United States, and in most towns on this list, the share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree is less than half the 32.9% national share. Even for those with college degrees, employment opportunities are scarce in many of these places. Only 14 of the 50 poorest towns have a five-year average unemployment rate below the 5.3% national average, and in 30 towns, the five-year average unemployment rate exceeds 10%. (Here is a look at the states where job openings are disappearing right now.

The towns on this list span the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast – though the majority of these places are located in the South, including 10 in Louisiana alone. 

Click here to see America’s poorest towns. 

Click here to read our detailed methodology. 

50. Abbeville, Georgia
> Median household income: $20,750
> Poverty rate: 45.8% — 85th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.6% — 4,668th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 5.1% — 238th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,725

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49. Friars Point, Mississippi
> Median household income: $20,714
> Poverty rate: 47.8% — 63rd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 24.2% — 52nd highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 7.5% — 627th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,269

48. Mansura, Louisiana
> Median household income: $20,683
> Poverty rate: 49.2% — 48th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.4% — 912th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 7.2% — 571st lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,529

Source: TracieMichelle / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

47. Highland Park, Michigan
> Median household income: $20,666
> Poverty rate: 46.1% — 81st highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 19.2% — 143rd highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 16.7% — 3,930th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 10,818

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Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

46. Fayette, Mississippi
> Median household income: $20,636
> Poverty rate: 42.9% — 132nd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.4% — 6,216th lowest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 19.3% — 5,173rd lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,530

45. Drew, Mississippi
> Median household income: $20,325
> Poverty rate: 45.3% — 95th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 7.6% — 2,789th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 10.6% — 1,387th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,343

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44. Mamou, Louisiana
> Median household income: $20,322
> Poverty rate: 62.8% — 9th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 22.1% — 83rd highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.2% — 380th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 3,137

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

43. Goodman, Mississippi
> Median household income: $20,284
> Poverty rate: 53.2% — 31st highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 13.3% — 558th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.1% — 358th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,368

42. Presidio, Texas
> Median household income: $20,275
> Poverty rate: 52.6% — 37th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 21.0% — 99th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 10.3% — 1,299th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 3,928

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41. Ville Platte, Louisiana
> Median household income: $20,147
> Poverty rate: 42.5% — 139th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 22.6% — 77th highest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 7.8% — 690th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 7,117

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

40. Colfax, Louisiana
> Median household income: $20,139
> Poverty rate: 44.7% — 106th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.8% — 5,194th lowest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 11.1% — 1,585th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,261

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

39. Maury, North Carolina
> Median household income: $20,109
> Poverty rate: 59.2% — 15th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.9% — 798th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 3.7% — 118th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,362

Source: Norm Lane / iStock via Getty Images

38. Homer, Louisiana
> Median household income: $20,075
> Poverty rate: 45.0% — 100th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.2% — 5,884th lowest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 8.4% — 811th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,875

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

37. McKee, Kentucky
> Median household income: $20,061
> Poverty rate: 40.0% — 207th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 8.1% — 2,407th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 1.4% — 26th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,065

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Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images

36. Oglethorpe, Georgia
> Median household income: $20,043
> Poverty rate: 35.4% — 375th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.1% — 5,705th lowest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 9.3% — 994th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,274

35. Simmesport, Louisiana
> Median household income: $19,875
> Poverty rate: 45.9% — 83rd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.2% — 3,951st lowest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 3.2% — 89th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,395

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Source: Public domain / Wikimedia Commons

34. Alorton, Illinois
> Median household income: $19,764
> Poverty rate: 56.8% — 20th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 23.2% — 65th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.0% — 340th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,077

33. Waynesboro, Mississippi
> Median household income: $19,482
> Poverty rate: 42.1% — 152nd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 14.9% — 381st highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 24.9% — 5,711th highest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 4,882

32. Uniontown, Alabama
> Median household income: $19,408
> Poverty rate: 64.2% — 6th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 24.5% — 47th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 12.0% — 1,894th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,918

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31. Rayville, Louisiana
> Median household income: $19,395
> Poverty rate: 48.5% — 56th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 8.6% — 2,032nd highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.8% — 477th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 3,515

Source: Public Domain / Crazyleaper / Wikimedia Commons

30. Blacksburg, South Carolina
> Median household income: $19,316
> Poverty rate: 28.4% — 939th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 10.1% — 1,283rd highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 12.6% — 2,145th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,101

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Source: Andrew Gainer / Flickr

29. Marshallville, Georgia
> Median household income: $19,191
> Poverty rate: 44.5% — 110th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.6% — 858th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.5% — 4,801st lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,284

Source: tupungato / iStock via Getty Images

28. Richgrove, California
> Median household income: $19,063
> Poverty rate: 51.4% — 39th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 34.8% — 5th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 1.5% — 28th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,098

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

27. Wilkinson Heights, South Carolina
> Median household income: $19,052
> Poverty rate: 29.5% — 807th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 12.6% — 663rd highest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.2% — 4,653rd lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,863

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Source: Jordan Acuff-Patton / iStock via Getty Images

26. Thoreau, New Mexico
> Median household income: $18,988
> Poverty rate: 51.8% — 38th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 19.4% — 139th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 4.9% — 226th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,068

25. Weedpatch, California
> Median household income: $18,943
> Poverty rate: 50.4% — 44th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 21.9% — 86th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 0.4% — 5th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,879

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24. Lake Providence, Louisiana
> Median household income: $18,941
> Poverty rate: 56.1% — 23rd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 1.8% — 1,732nd lowest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 16.0% — 3,594th lowest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Population: 2,586

23. Nahunta, Georgia
> Median household income: $18,918
> Poverty rate: 45.8% — 84th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 16.5% — 258th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.5% — 417th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,135

22. Allendale, South Carolina
> Median household income: $18,680
> Poverty rate: 37.7% — 283rd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 11.1% — 986th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 11.1% — 1,567th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,953

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21. Castleton, Vermont
> Median household income: $18,564
> Poverty rate: 40.4% — 197th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 3.4% — 4,276th lowest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.5% — 1,995th highest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,141

Source: Robin Zeigler / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

20. Mount Vernon, Kentucky
> Median household income: $18,542
> Poverty rate: 51.3% — 41st highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 7.6% — 2,767th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 20.7% — 5,751st lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,191

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19. Como, Mississippi
> Median household income: $18,341
> Poverty rate: 37.4% — 292nd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 34.5% — 6th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 8.7% — 875th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,919

Source: Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

18. Vanceburg, Kentucky
> Median household income: $18,264
> Poverty rate: 44.7% — 107th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 1.3% — 1,038th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 8.4% — 815th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,385

17. Lambert, Mississippi
> Median household income: $18,125
> Poverty rate: 42.2% — 147th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 24.0% — 54th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 7.4% — 588th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,159

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Source: MattGush / iStock via Getty Images

16. Oasis, California
> Median household income: $17,946
> Poverty rate: 53.5% — 29th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 19.7% — 131st highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 3.7% — 117th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,554

Source: digidreamgrafix / Getty Images

15. Plymouth, North Carolina
> Median household income: $17,594
> Poverty rate: 50.8% — 42nd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.7% — 6,112th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.7% — 461st lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 3,432

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14. Cullen, Louisiana
> Median household income: $17,370
> Poverty rate: 56.1% — 24th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 6.0% — 4,371st highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 5.7% — 300th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,166

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

13. Shippensburg University (census-designated place), Pennsylvania
> Median household income: $17,067
> Poverty rate: 76.4% — the highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 15.9% — 299th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 69.1% — 471st highest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,887

12. Jamestown, Tennessee
> Median household income: $17,051
> Poverty rate: 43.9% — 118th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 13.1% — 593rd highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 3.4% — 101st lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 2,145

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11. Brunswick, North Carolina
> Median household income: $16,813
> Poverty rate: 61.2% — 11th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.5% — 6,418th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 3.7% — 113th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,128

10. Marianna, Arkansas
> Median household income: $16,704
> Poverty rate: 40.0% — 209th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 22.5% — 79th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.2% — 372nd lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 3,472

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9. Fort Thompson, South Dakota
> Median household income: $16,563
> Poverty rate: 48.3% — 58th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 29.1% — 21st highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 5.7% — 306th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,275

8. Prairie View, Texas
> Median household income: $16,363
> Poverty rate: 54.7% — 27th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 15.7% — 311th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 37.5% — 3,004th highest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 6,813

Source: Jacqueline Nix / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

7. Livingston, Alabama
> Median household income: $16,233
> Poverty rate: 47.3% — 67th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 6.7% — 3,518th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 25.6% — 5,543rd highest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 3,286

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6. Cibecue, Arizona
> Median household income: $16,058
> Poverty rate: 67.8% — 4th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 26.4% — 35th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 4.7% — 207th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,834

Source: Nyttend / Public Domain / Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

5. Jonesville, Virginia
> Median household income: $15,691
> Poverty rate: 48.9% — 52nd highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 17.7% — 200th highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 10.5% — 1,368th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,355

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Source: Indy beetle / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

4. Scotland Neck, North Carolina
> Median household income: $15,404
> Poverty rate: 43.0% — 130th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 4.1% — 5,653rd lowest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 12.8% — 2,217th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,770

3. Rosedale, Mississippi
> Median household income: $15,130
> Poverty rate: 57.1% — 18th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 18.5% — 162nd highest of 12,865 towns
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 10.4% — 1,339th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,855

2. Waldoboro, Maine
> Median household income: $14,876
> Poverty rate: 30.1% — 756th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 5.0% — 5,751st highest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 25.3% — 5,624th highest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,371

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Source: via Facebook / courtesy of Urania, Louisiana

1. Urania, Louisiana
> Median household income: $12,358
> Poverty rate: 40.4% — 194th highest of 12,865 towns
> 5-yr. avg. unemployment: 1.4% — 1,168th lowest of 12,865 towns (tied)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 5.4% — 274th lowest of 12,865 towns
> Population: 1,471

Methodology

To identify America’s poorest towns, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of median household income from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.

We used census “place” geographies — a category that includes incorporated legal entities and census-designated statistical entities. We defined towns based on population thresholds — having at least 1,000 people and less than 25,000 people.

Towns were excluded if median household income was not available in the 2020 ACS or if the sampling error associated with a town’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 town’s median household income was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all towns’ median gross rents. We similarly excluded towns that had a sampling error too high for their population, using the same definition.

Additional data on the poverty rate, five year average unemployment, educational attainment, and population are also from the ACS. 

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