Special Report

These Are the Poorest Counties in Illinois

White farmhouse
Glenn Nagel / iStock via Getty Images

Incomes are rising rapidly in the United States. According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the national median household income was nearly $75,000 in 2022, up from about $69,700 in 2021. The 7.2% increase was the largest recorded year-over-year since at least the mid-1990s.

While the typical American household is earning more than ever before, incomes have not been rising fast enough to offset inflation. Throughout 2022, the average rate of inflation hit a 40-year high of 8%, four times the Federal Reserve’s 2% target rate. Accounting for the rising cost of living, real incomes in the U.S. fell by nearly 5% between 2019 and 2022.

While no one has been spared from surging prices, Americans on the low end of the income spectrum have bore the brunt. 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.

With a median household income of $78,433, Illinois has a relatively high-earning population. Still, there are many parts of the state where the typical household earns far less than the statewide median.

Using five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 35 poorest counties in Illinois. Counties in the state are ranked on median household income. Population, poverty, and unemployment data are also five-year estimates from the 2022 ACS.

Among the counties on this list, median household incomes are anywhere from about $18,100 to $38,100 below the statewide median. In many of these counties, levels of financial hardship are underscored by widespread poverty. In all but one county on this list, the share of residents living below the poverty line exceeds the 11.8% statewide poverty rate.

These are the poorest counties in Illinois.

35. Williamson County

Source: wellesenterprises / iStock via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $60,325
  • Poverty rate: 13.2%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.4%
  • Population: 67,120

34. Macon County

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $59,622
  • Poverty rate: 15.5%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 7.2%
  • Population: 103,542

33. Marion County

  • Median household income: $59,099
  • Poverty rate: 17.0%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 8.1%
  • Population: 37,543

32. Ford County

  • Median household income: $58,930
  • Poverty rate: 12.1%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.7%
  • Population: 13,484

31. Greene County

Source: benkrut / iStock via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $58,900
  • Poverty rate: 13.7%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Population: 12,015

30. Bond County

  • Median household income: $58,617
  • Poverty rate: 14.9%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.3%
  • Population: 16,750

29. Mason County

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $58,479
  • Poverty rate: 13.7%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 5.2%
  • Population: 13,074

28. Jefferson County

  • Median household income: $58,384
  • Poverty rate: 14.1%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 6.4%
  • Population: 37,043

27. Stark County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $58,125
  • Poverty rate: 12.5%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 3.3%
  • Population: 5,395

26. Clay County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $58,028
  • Poverty rate: 15.7%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 6.0%
  • Population: 13,248

25. Pope County

Source: Roberto Galan / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $57,582
  • Poverty rate: 18.7%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 9.1%
  • Population: 3,799

24. Stephenson County

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $57,527
  • Poverty rate: 13.3%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 5.3%
  • Population: 44,482

23. Massac County

  • Median household income: $57,365
  • Poverty rate: 13.8%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 3.7%
  • Population: 14,135

22. Fulton County

  • Median household income: $57,223
  • Poverty rate: 13.4%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 6.8%
  • Population: 33,691

21. Christian County

  • Median household income: $56,933
  • Poverty rate: 11.9%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.4%
  • Population: 33,893

20. Edgar County

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $56,687
  • Poverty rate: 11.8%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.6%
  • Population: 16,852

19. Perry County

  • Median household income: $56,338
  • Poverty rate: 17.5%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 6.1%
  • Population: 20,996

18. Lawrence County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $55,811
  • Poverty rate: 13.7%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 7.8%
  • Population: 15,302

17. Pike County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $55,514
  • Poverty rate: 13.5%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.7%
  • Population: 14,776

16. White County

  • Median household income: $54,605
  • Poverty rate: 15.3%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 3.5%
  • Population: 13,834

15. Union County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $54,090
  • Poverty rate: 20.1%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 6.3%
  • Population: 17,122

14. Wabash County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $54,074
  • Poverty rate: 13.3%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.4%
  • Population: 11,321

13. Coles County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $53,732
  • Poverty rate: 19.4%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 6.9%
  • Population: 47,076

12. Wayne County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $53,522
  • Poverty rate: 13.9%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • Population: 16,127

11. Hardin County

Source: Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $53,026
  • Poverty rate: 11.5%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 2.6%
  • Population: 3,665

10. Vermilion County

  • Median household income: $52,787
  • Poverty rate: 17.5%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 6.7%
  • Population: 74,113

9. Fayette County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $51,962
  • Poverty rate: 14.7%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 3.8%
  • Population: 21,464

8. Gallatin County

Source: BOB WESTON / iStock via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $51,868
  • Poverty rate: 19.2%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 7.8%
  • Population: 4,967

7. Saline County

Source: Roberto Galan / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Median household income: $51,710
  • Poverty rate: 18.0%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 5.9%
  • Population: 23,662

6. Franklin County

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $51,031
  • Poverty rate: 17.8%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 6.7%
  • Population: 37,810

5. Knox County

Source: Chimperil59 / Getty Images
  • Median household income: $50,263
  • Poverty rate: 16.3%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.9%
  • Population: 49,751

4. McDonough County

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images
  • Median household income: $48,904
  • Poverty rate: 19.8%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 8.0%
  • Population: 27,370

3. Jackson County

Source: Nyttend / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $44,847
  • Poverty rate: 23.0%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 8.1%
  • Population: 53,176

2. Pulaski County

Source: Nyttend / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Median household income: $41,038
  • Poverty rate: 25.0%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 4.2%
  • Population: 5,177

1. Alexander County

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images
  • Median household income: $40,365
  • Poverty rate: 21.4%
  • 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate: 9.3%
  • Population: 5,261
Rank County Median household income ($) Poverty rate (%) 5-yr. avg. unemployment rate (%)
1 Alexander, Illinois 40,365 21.4 9.3
2 Pulaski, Illinois 41,038 25.0 4.2
3 Jackson, Illinois 44,847 23.0 8.1
4 McDonough, Illinois 48,904 19.8 8.0
5 Knox, Illinois 50,263 16.3 4.9
6 Franklin, Illinois 51,031 17.8 6.7
7 Saline, Illinois 51,710 18.0 5.9
8 Gallatin, Illinois 51,868 19.2 7.8
9 Fayette, Illinois 51,962 14.7 3.8
10 Vermilion, Illinois 52,787 17.5 6.7
11 Hardin, Illinois 53,026 11.5 2.6
12 Wayne, Illinois 53,522 13.9 3.6
13 Coles, Illinois 53,732 19.4 6.9
14 Wabash, Illinois 54,074 13.3 4.4
15 Union, Illinois 54,090 20.1 6.3
16 White, Illinois 54,605 15.3 3.5
17 Pike, Illinois 55,514 13.5 4.7
18 Lawrence, Illinois 55,811 13.7 7.8
19 Perry, Illinois 56,338 17.5 6.1
20 Edgar, Illinois 56,687 11.8 4.6
21 Christian, Illinois 56,933 11.9 4.4
22 Fulton, Illinois 57,223 13.4 6.8
23 Massac, Illinois 57,365 13.8 3.7
24 Stephenson, Illinois 57,527 13.3 5.3
25 Pope, Illinois 57,582 18.7 9.1
26 Clay, Illinois 58,028 15.7 6.0
27 Stark, Illinois 58,125 12.5 3.3
28 Jefferson, Illinois 58,384 14.1 6.4
29 Mason, Illinois 58,479 13.7 5.2
30 Bond, Illinois 58,617 14.9 4.3
31 Greene, Illinois 58,900 13.7 3.4
32 Ford, Illinois 58,930 12.1 4.7
33 Marion, Illinois 59,099 17.0 8.1
34 Macon, Illinois 59,622 15.5 7.2
35 Williamson, Illinois 60,325 13.2 4.4

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