Complete List of Poorest Counties in the U.S., with Lowest Median Household Income

Poorest Counties in the U.S.
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Income in the United States has been increasing year-over-year, but, at the same time, U.S. income inequality is also rising. If we compare the U.S. median household income by county, in 2016, the typical median household income in the wealthiest county was $2,219.0 more in 2016 than the prior year, while that of the poorest county was $356.0 less.

The U.S. county poverty rate varies within each state. Even the wealthier states have some poor counties. Factors like education, unemployment, and industries affect the income inequality. The poorest counties in the U.S. often have lower education levels, higher unemployment, and lower-paying industries.

To determine the poorest counties in the United States, researchers from 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the median household income of all U.S. counties with a minimum of 10,000 residents, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Five Counties With Lowest Median Household Income in the U.S.

Here is a list of the five counties with the lowest median household incomes in the United States

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Note: All of the numbers below are five-year averages for 2012–2016, and the data for unemployment was adjusted for November 2017.

McCreary County, Kentucky

The typical household annual income in McCreary County, Kentucky is just $18,972. It’s much less than the median household income for Kentucky as a whole, which is $44,811. About 42.5% of the county resides in poverty, with an unemployment rate of 5.6% for November 2017, which is quite high.

Sumter County, Alabama

The typical household annual income in Sumter County, Alabama is $20,428. It’s less than half of the median household income for Alabama as a whole, which is $44,758. About 36.7% of the county’s population lives in poverty.  Sumter County’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in November 2017, which is much higher than Alabama’s overall unemployment rate of 3.6 percent.

Holmes County, Mississippi

The typical household annual income in Holmes County, Mississippi is $20,800. It’s nearly half of Mississippi’s median household income of $40,528. Some 45% of the Holmes County population lives in poverty. The November 2017 unemployment rate in Holmes County was 8.1 percent, which is quite high.

McDowell County, West Virginia

The typical household annual income in McDowell County, West Virginia is $25,206. It’s far less than the median household income for West Virginia as a whole, which is $42,644. Some 37.6% of McDowell County’s population lives in poverty. The November 2017 unemployment rate in McDowell County was 8.4 percent.

Madison Parish, Louisiana

The typical household annual income in Madison Parish, Louisiana is $25,404, which is far less than Louisiana’s median household income of $45,652. About 39.6% of Madison Parish residents live in poverty. The November 2017 unemployment rate in Madison was 7.0 percent, which is very high, compared to the states’ unemployment rate of 3.2 percent.

List of the Next-Poorest Counties in the U.S.

Here is the list of rest of the Counties with lowest median household income in the USA.

County State County Median Household Income State Median Household Income Poverty Rate November Unemployment Rate
Oglala Lakota County South Dakota $26,330.0 $52,078.0 53.9% 12.6%
Desha County Arkansas $26,519 $42,336 32.0% 4.1%
Zavala County Texas $26,639 $54,727 35.8% 9.1%
San Miguel County New Mexico $27,000 $45,674 30.1% 7.0%
Telfair County Georgia $27,657 $51,037 28.7% 7.0%
Grundy County Tennessee $28,467 $46,574 28.0% 4.6%
Williamsburg County South Carolina $28,494 $46,898 29.3% 5.6%
Glacier County Montana $29,181 $48,380 33.3% 7.9%
Mississippi County Missouri $29,214 $49,593 30.5% 3.8%
Madison County Florida $29,806 $48,900 28.5% 4.2%
Scotland County North Carolina $30,013 $48,256 31.5% 7.9%
Buchanan County Virginia $30,335 $66,149 23.9% 7.0%
Lake County Michigan $30,824 $50,803 27.2% 6.9%
Choctaw County Oklahoma $30,870 $48,038 28.5% 5.5%
Alamosa County Colorado $32,385 $62,520 31.4% 3.3%
Apache County Arizona $32,460 $51,340 36.2% 9.2%
Jackson County Illinois $33,845 $59,196 28.3% 4.3%
Madison County Idaho $33,856 $49,174 32.6% 1.9%
Athens County Ohio $34,221 $50,674 31.2% 4.6%
Malheur County Oregon $34,720 $53,270 24.8% 3.9%
Trinity County California $35,270 $63,783 20.1% 5.2%
Bronx County New York $35,302 $60,741 30.5% 5.6%
Somerset County Maryland $35,886 $76,067 25.1% 6.8%
Piscataquis County Maine $36,938 $50,826 20.6% 4.3%
Rolette County North Dakota $37,313 $59,114 31.6% 7.7%
Crawford County Kansas $37,607 $53,571 21.8% 3.8%
Pacific County Washington $38,387 $62,848 18.7% 6.5%
Blackford County Indiana $38,791 $50,433 12.0% 3.8%
Philadelphia County Pennsylvania $39,770 $54,895 25.9% 5.7%
Rusk County Wisconsin $39,904 $54,610 15.9% 3.4%
Appanoose County Iowa $40,817 $54,570 16.1% 3.2%
San Juan County Utah $41,108 $62,518 27.6% 5.6%
Nye County Nevada $42,266 $53,094 17.2% 6.4%
Red Willow County Nebraska $42,457 $54,384 11.8% 2.0%
Wadena County Minnesota $42,689 $63,217 15.5% 4.6%
Albany County Wyoming $43,043 $59,143 25.5% 2.8%
Orleans County Vermont $43,959 $56,104 14.6% 4.0%
Coos County New Hampshire $45,154 $68,485 13.3% 3.2%
Cumberland County New Jersey $49,537 $73,702 18.5% 7.1%
Providence County Rhode Island $50,637 $58,387 17.2% 4.6%
Hampden County Massachusetts $51,005 $70,954 17.6% 4.4%
Bethel Census Area Alaska $53,296 $74,444 26.6% 13.0%
Hawaii County Hawaii $53,936 $71,977 18.7% 2.4%
Sussex County Delaware $54,218 $61,017 12.9% 4.5%
Windham County Connecticut $60,689 $71,755 11.2% 4.5%

U.S. Income Inequality Is Getting Worse

Numbers from the Federal Reserve show a picture of growing U.S. income inequality in recent years.

The richest one percent of U.S. families controlled 38.6% of country’s wealth in 2016. On the other hand, the bottom 90% of families held just 22.8% of the wealth. This value was down from about one-third in 1989, when the Fed first started tracking this data.

The top one percent of families acquired 23.8% of the overall income in 2016. This value is up from 20.3% in 2013, and is about two times as high as the low in 1992.

The bottom 90% of families acquired 49.7% of the overall income in 2016. This value is down from more than 60% in 1992.

Along with the income problem, the booming stock market is also contributing to U.S. income inequality. The value of stock portfolios increased over the past three years to an average of $344,500. But many Americans were not able to experience the benefit of the stock boom, since they had not invested, or they didn’t have enough money in the market.

Some 51.9% of U.S. families invested in the stock market in 2016, which was up from 48.8% in 2013.

On average, 93.6% of the top income group owned stocks in 2016, with average holdings of $1.4 million. That’s up from $999,400 in 2013.

One-third of families in the bottom 50% income group invested in stocks directly or indirectly, with an average portfolio of $52,000. This value is down from $55,300 in 2013.

Sources:

U.S. Economy: A Rundown of the Poorest County in Every State,” USA Today, January 22, 2018.

America’s Wealth Gap is Bigger Than Ever,” CNN, November 3, 2017.

Record Inequality: The Top 1% Controls 38.6% of America’s Wealth,” CNN, September 27, 2017.

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