Special Report

The Poorest County In Every State

dok1 / Flickr

Incomes have been on the rise in the United States for well over a decade. Since 2010, the typical American household’s earnings climbed between 0.9% and 6.1% annually. Still, in recent years, incomes have not been rising fast enough to offset inflation. Accounting for the rising cost of living, real incomes in the U.S. fell by nearly 3% from 2019 to 2021, the latest years of available data, which notably does not include the historic inflation high of 9.1% (as measured by the consumer price index) reported in June 2022. 

While no one has been spared from surging prices, Americans on the low end of the income spectrum are disproportionately impacted. During inflationary periods, higher-income Americans can cut back on spending and reduce the impact of rising costs. Meanwhile, lower earning Americans,, who spend a larger share of their income on necessities such as food, housing, and gas, cannot. (These are the states where inflation is causing the most stress.)

Though inflation has cooled somewhat in recent months, communities across the country are still being squeezed. In these places, incomes tend to be far lower than what is typical across the state and the country as a whole. 

Using five-year median household income estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the poorest county or county equivalent in each state. In every place on this list, incomes are anywhere from 12% to 59% lower than they are across the state. 

While every county on this list ranks as the poorest in its respective state, levels of financial hardship vary considerably. In many Southern states, including Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, most households in the poorest counties earn less than $30,000 a year. In wealthier states, such as Hawaii, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, even the poorest counties have median incomes that closely align with what the typical American household earns. 

Though income levels range among the counties on this list, some key measures tend to align. For example, in all but five of these counties, the unemployment rate is higher than it is across the state as a whole. Similarly, incomes tend to rise with levels of educational attainment, and in all but two counties on this list, adults are less likely to have a bachelor’s degree or higher than the typical adult in the state. (These are the 25 highest paying college majors.)

Click here to see the poorest county in every state.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Alabama (62 counties considered): Sumter
> Median household income: $27,099 (state: $54,943)
> Poverty rate: 31.6% (state: 15.8%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4.5% (state: 2.2%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 19.5% (state: 26.7%)
> Population: 12,482 (state: 4,997,675)
> County seat: Livingston

[in-text-ad]

Alaska (22 boroughs considered): Yukon-Koyukuk
> Median household income: $43,405 (state: $80,287)
> Poverty rate: 23.2% (state: 10.4%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 8.9% (state: 3.7%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 12.9% (state: 30.6%)
> Population: 5,433 (state: 735,951)
> County seat: N/A

Arizona (15 counties considered): Apache
> Median household income: $34,788 (state: $65,913)
> Poverty rate: 33.9% (state: 13.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 8.8% (state: 3.5%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 12.8% (state: 31.2%)
> Population: 66,473 (state: 7,079,203)
> County seat: St. Johns

Arkansas (64 counties considered): Chicot
> Median household income: $33,770 (state: $52,123)
> Poverty rate: 29.6% (state: 16.0%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.3% (state: 2.6%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 14.8% (state: 24.3%)
> Population: 10,405 (state: 3,006,309)
> County seat: Lake Village

[in-text-ad-2]

California (56 counties considered): Trinity
> Median household income: $42,206 (state: $84,097)
> Poverty rate: 22.5% (state: 12.3%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.3% (state: 4.6%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 18.6% (state: 35.3%)
> Population: 15,818 (state: 39,455,353)
> County seat: Weaverville

Colorado (49 counties considered): Conejos
> Median household income: $38,536 (state: $80,184)
> Poverty rate: 16.3% (state: 9.6%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.2% (state: 2.8%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 24.5% (state: 42.8%)
> Population: 7,579 (state: 5,723,176)
> County seat: Conejos

[in-text-ad]

Connecticut (8 counties considered): Windham
> Median household income: $71,418 (state: $83,572)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (state: 10.0%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4.2% (state: 3.7%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 24.4% (state: 40.6%)
> Population: 116,503 (state: 3,605,330)
> County seat: N/A

Delaware (3 counties considered): Kent
> Median household income: $63,715 (state: $72,724)
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (state: 11.4%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.3% (state: 4.2%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 25.7% (state: 33.6%)
> Population: 180,078 (state: 981,892)
> County seat: Dover

Florida (62 counties considered): Calhoun
> Median household income: $38,098 (state: $61,777)
> Poverty rate: 18.2% (state: 13.1%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.3% (state: 2.6%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 10.0% (state: 31.5%)
> Population: 13,863 (state: 21,339,762)
> County seat: Blountstown

[in-text-ad-2]

Georgia (128 counties considered): Wheeler
> Median household income: $26,776 (state: $65,030)
> Poverty rate: 23.0% (state: 13.9%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 6.2% (state: 3.2%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 9.1% (state: 33.0%)
> Population: 7,568 (state: 10,625,615)
> County seat: Alamo

Hawaii (4 counties considered): Hawaii
> Median household income: $68,399 (state: $88,005)
> Poverty rate: 13.8% (state: 9.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.8% (state: 3%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 30.2% (state: 34.3%)
> Population: 200,468 (state: 1,453,498)
> County seat: Hilo

[in-text-ad]

Idaho (36 counties considered): Shoshone
> Median household income: $43,188 (state: $63,377)
> Poverty rate: 15.1% (state: 11.4%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4.4% (state: 2.7%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 11.3% (state: 29.1%)
> Population: 13,124 (state: 1,811,617)
> County seat: Wallace

Illinois (100 counties considered): Jackson
> Median household income: $41,699 (state: $72,563)
> Poverty rate: 23.8% (state: 11.8%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4.9% (state: 4%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 34.2% (state: 36.2%)
> Population: 53,676 (state: 12,821,813)
> County seat: Murphysboro

Indiana (91 counties considered): Crawford
> Median household income: $42,465 (state: $61,944)
> Poverty rate: 19.2% (state: 12.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.5% (state: 3.2%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 11.7% (state: 27.8%)
> Population: 10,511 (state: 6,751,340)
> County seat: English

[in-text-ad-2]

Iowa (99 counties considered): Appanoose
> Median household income: $46,900 (state: $65,429)
> Poverty rate: 19.4% (state: 11.0%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.2% (state: 2.7%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 18.9% (state: 29.7%)
> Population: 12,310 (state: 3,179,090)
> County seat: Centerville

Kansas (90 counties considered): Graham
> Median household income: $44,091 (state: $64,521)
> Poverty rate: 9.2% (state: 11.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 2.4% (state: 2.8%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 26.4% (state: 34.4%)
> Population: 2,444 (state: 2,932,099)
> County seat: Hill City

[in-text-ad]

Kentucky (98 counties considered): Magoffin
> Median household income: $29,615 (state: $55,454)
> Poverty rate: 29.0% (state: 16.3%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 9.7% (state: 3.8%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 10.9% (state: 25.7%)
> Population: 11,818 (state: 4,494,141)
> County seat: Salyersville

Louisiana (58 parishes considered): Claiborne
> Median household income: $29,574 (state: $53,571)
> Poverty rate: 33.6% (state: 18.8%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4.4% (state: 3.6%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 12.2% (state: 25.5%)
> Population: 14,456 (state: 4,657,305)
> County seat: Homer

Maine (16 counties considered): Washington
> Median household income: $46,689 (state: $63,182)
> Poverty rate: 18.7% (state: 11.0%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.2% (state: 2.4%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 24.0% (state: 33.6%)
> Population: 31,003 (state: 1,357,046)
> County seat: Machias

[in-text-ad-2]

Maryland (24 counties considered): Somerset
> Median household income: $48,661 (state: $91,431)
> Poverty rate: 20.4% (state: 9.2%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 2.4% (state: 2%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 17.0% (state: 41.6%)
> Population: 24,834 (state: 6,148,545)
> County seat: Princess Anne

Massachusetts (13 counties considered): Hampden
> Median household income: $61,310 (state: $89,026)
> Poverty rate: 15.9% (state: 9.9%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.5% (state: 2.6%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 28.2% (state: 45.2%)
> Population: 466,265 (state: 6,991,852)
> County seat: Springfield

[in-text-ad]

Michigan (82 counties considered): Lake
> Median household income: $40,753 (state: $63,202)
> Poverty rate: 19.4% (state: 13.3%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 6.9% (state: 3.6%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 13.1% (state: 30.6%)
> Population: 12,248 (state: 10,062,512)
> County seat: Baldwin

Minnesota (87 counties considered): Mahnomen
> Median household income: $48,021 (state: $77,706)
> Poverty rate: 21.1% (state: 9.2%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.2% (state: 2.9%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 12.9% (state: 37.6%)
> Population: 5,429 (state: 5,670,472)
> County seat: Mahnomen

Mississippi (67 counties considered): Holmes
> Median household income: $24,958 (state: $49,111)
> Poverty rate: 39.2% (state: 19.4%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 7.1% (state: 3.1%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 12.7% (state: 23.2%)
> Population: 17,243 (state: 2,967,023)
> County seat: Lexington

[in-text-ad-2]

Missouri (110 counties considered): Hickory
> Median household income: $32,132 (state: $61,043)
> Poverty rate: 15.4% (state: 12.8%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.7% (state: 2.6%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 9.8% (state: 30.7%)
> Population: 8,429 (state: 6,141,534)
> County seat: Hermitage

Montana (42 counties considered): Glacier
> Median household income: $39,441 (state: $60,560)
> Poverty rate: 28.0% (state: 12.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.6% (state: 2.4%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 21.7% (state: 33.7%)
> Population: 13,827 (state: 1,077,978)
> County seat: Cut Bank

[in-text-ad]

Nebraska (76 counties considered): Garden
> Median household income: $43,478 (state: $66,644)
> Poverty rate: 6.9% (state: 10.3%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 2.2% (state: 1.9%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 26.5% (state: 32.9%)
> Population: 1,726 (state: 1,951,480)
> County seat: Oshkosh

Nevada (11 counties considered): Nye
> Median household income: $52,570 (state: $65,686)
> Poverty rate: 15.6% (state: 12.9%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 7.1% (state: 5.4%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 12.7% (state: 26.1%)
> Population: 50,096 (state: 3,059,238)
> County seat: Tonopah

New Hampshire (10 counties considered): Coos
> Median household income: $52,054 (state: $83,449)
> Poverty rate: 10.9% (state: 7.4%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 2% (state: 1.8%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 20.0% (state: 38.2%)
> Population: 31,360 (state: 1,372,175)
> County seat: Lancaster

[in-text-ad-2]

New Jersey (21 counties considered): Cumberland
> Median household income: $58,397 (state: $89,703)
> Poverty rate: 15.7% (state: 9.8%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 6.1% (state: 3.7%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 17.0% (state: 41.5%)
> Population: 154,921 (state: 9,234,024)
> County seat: Bridgeton

New Mexico (26 counties considered): Quay
> Median household income: $33,067 (state: $54,020)
> Poverty rate: 25.5% (state: 18.3%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.1% (state: 3.5%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 15.5% (state: 28.5%)
> Population: 8,675 (state: 2,109,366)
> County seat: Tucumcari

[in-text-ad]

New York (61 counties considered): Bronx
> Median household income: $43,726 (state: $75,157)
> Poverty rate: 26.5% (state: 13.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 7.6% (state: 3.9%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 20.9% (state: 38.1%)
> Population: 1,468,262 (state: 20,114,745)
> County seat: N/A

North Carolina (95 counties considered): Robeson
> Median household income: $36,736 (state: $60,516)
> Poverty rate: 27.3% (state: 13.7%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.2% (state: 3.3%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 14.2% (state: 33.0%)
> Population: 118,836 (state: 10,367,022)
> County seat: Lumberton

North Dakota (46 counties considered): Sioux
> Median household income: $39,755 (state: $68,131)
> Poverty rate: 38.5% (state: 10.7%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4.4% (state: 2%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 13.6% (state: 31.1%)
> Population: 3,993 (state: 773,344)
> County seat: Fort Yates

[in-text-ad-2]

Ohio (88 counties considered): Scioto
> Median household income: $43,266 (state: $61,938)
> Poverty rate: 23.8% (state: 13.4%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4.9% (state: 3.4%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 16.4% (state: 29.7%)
> Population: 74,392 (state: 11,769,923)
> County seat: Portsmouth

Oklahoma (73 counties considered): Adair
> Median household income: $37,940 (state: $56,956)
> Poverty rate: 24.5% (state: 15.2%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.7% (state: 2.7%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 10.6% (state: 26.8%)
> Population: 19,839 (state: 3,948,136)
> County seat: Stilwell

[in-text-ad]

Oregon (34 counties considered): Wheeler
> Median household income: $46,648 (state: $70,084)
> Poverty rate: 14.0% (state: 12.1%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3% (state: 3.5%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 19.6% (state: 35.0%)
> Population: 1,477 (state: 4,207,177)
> County seat: Fossil

Pennsylvania (67 counties considered): Cameron
> Median household income: $43,615 (state: $67,587)
> Poverty rate: 16.1% (state: 11.8%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.3% (state: 3.8%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 10.6% (state: 33.1%)
> Population: 4,596 (state: 12,970,650)
> County seat: Emporium

Rhode Island (5 counties considered): Providence
> Median household income: $65,797 (state: $74,489)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (state: 11.3%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.3% (state: 2.9%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 30.6% (state: 35.3%)
> Population: 656,672 (state: 1,091,949)
> County seat: N/A

[in-text-ad-2]

South Carolina (44 counties considered): Marlboro
> Median household income: $32,136 (state: $58,234)
> Poverty rate: 28.0% (state: 14.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 8.4% (state: 3.1%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 8.0% (state: 29.8%)
> Population: 26,912 (state: 5,078,903)
> County seat: Bennettsville

South Dakota (57 counties considered): Todd
> Median household income: $26,250 (state: $63,920)
> Poverty rate: 59.0% (state: 12.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4% (state: 1.8%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 13.3% (state: 30.0%)
> Population: 9,434 (state: 881,785)
> County seat: Winner

[in-text-ad]

Tennessee (88 counties considered): Hancock
> Median household income: $29,650 (state: $58,516)
> Poverty rate: 29.1% (state: 14.3%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.6% (state: 3.2%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 11.1% (state: 29.0%)
> Population: 6,695 (state: 6,859,497)
> County seat: Sneedville

Texas (187 counties considered): Starr
> Median household income: $33,334 (state: $67,321)
> Poverty rate: 32.6% (state: 14.0%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 9.6% (state: 4.1%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 12.3% (state: 31.5%)
> Population: 65,568 (state: 28,862,581)
> County seat: Rio Grande City

Utah (24 counties considered): Grand
> Median household income: $51,433 (state: $79,133)
> Poverty rate: 14.8% (state: 8.8%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 2.1% (state: 2.4%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 26.9% (state: 35.4%)
> Population: 9,630 (state: 3,231,370)
> County seat: Moab

[in-text-ad-2]

Vermont (14 counties considered): Essex
> Median household income: $48,194 (state: $67,674)
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (state: 10.5%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.4% (state: 1.9%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 19.9% (state: 40.9%)
> Population: 5,972 (state: 641,637)
> County seat: Guildhall

Virginia (119 counties considered): Dickenson
> Median household income: $33,905 (state: $80,615)
> Poverty rate: 21.2% (state: 9.9%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 4.3% (state: 2.7%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 10.4% (state: 40.3%)
> Population: 14,256 (state: 8,582,479)
> County seat: Clintwood

[in-text-ad]

Washington (38 counties considered): Whitman
> Median household income: $43,613 (state: $82,400)
> Poverty rate: 24.7% (state: 10.0%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.4% (state: 3.8%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 47.6% (state: 37.3%)
> Population: 48,197 (state: 7,617,364)
> County seat: Colfax

West Virginia (50 counties considered): McDowell
> Median household income: $30,127 (state: $50,884)
> Poverty rate: 28.9% (state: 16.9%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 6.1% (state: 3.3%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 6.4% (state: 21.8%)
> Population: 19,334 (state: 1,801,049)
> County seat: Welch

Wisconsin (72 counties considered): Iron
> Median household income: $48,908 (state: $67,080)
> Poverty rate: 13.2% (state: 10.7%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 5.9% (state: 2.5%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 23.0% (state: 31.5%)
> Population: 6,074 (state: 5,871,661)
> County seat: Hurley

[in-text-ad-2]

Wyoming (21 counties considered): Albany
> Median household income: $50,733 (state: $68,002)
> Poverty rate: 23.6% (state: 10.7%)
> Unemployment rate, June 2023: 3.1% (state: 3.1%)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 56.3% (state: 28.5%)
> Population: 37,311 (state: 576,641)
> County seat: Laramie

Methodology

To identify the poorest county in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median annual household incomes for each U.S. county using five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey. We only considered counties with income estimates with a maximum 15% margin of error. For South Dakota we increased the margin of error threshold to 20%. It is important to note that margins of error increased in census data that contain the year 2020.

We also reviewed in each county the percentage of adults who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, the poverty rate, and median home value from the ACS. Unemployment rates for June 2023 are preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are not seasonally adjusted.

County equivalents, such as parishes in Louisiana and boroughs in Alaska, were included in our analysis.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.