The Poorest Counties in Every State in America

The Poorest Counties in America

The number of Americans living in poverty has been on the rise since the Great Recession, as many households have seen their incomes drop and their debts mount in the past few years. In total, more than 15% of the population lived in poverty in 2010, the highest percentage since 1993, according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau. To put that in perspective, that means more than 46 million people fell below the poverty line, defined as $22,314 for a family of four. If you factor in the income spent on expenses like medical costs, child care and mortgage payments, the number of Americans whose remaining income falls below the poverty line is closer to 50 million, or roughly 16% of the population. As severe as this sounds, some regions in the U.S. are much worse off. In November, the census released a breakdown of the poverty rate in every county in the U.S. in 2010, which showed dozens of counties where more than a third of the population lives in poverty and a handful whose overall poverty rates were closer to 50%. MainStreet combed through the data to find the county in each state with the highest poverty rate. Here they are, listed alphabetically by state with census data on the childhood poverty rate and the median household income included. Photo Credit: TheStreet Illustration


The Poorest County in Alabama: Wilcox

The jobless rate in the South is higher than the national average at more than 9%. The median annual income of residents of this rural county between Montgomery and Mobile is less than half of the national median income. The county’s high school graduation rate of 71.1% also trails Alabama’s 80.8% average. Poverty Rate: 39.6% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 52.5% Median Household Income: $21,611 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Alaska: Wade Hampton Census Area

Located more than 300 miles west of Anchorage, this area of Alaska has a population that is by and large Alaska Native persons. The Wade Hampton census area is 95% American Indian and Alaska Native persons, a much higher percentage than the state, which has American Indians and Alaska Native persons making up about 14.8% of its population. Wade Hampton also has relatively small housing costs, with the med    ian value of owner-occupied housing units at $80,300. Poverty Rate: 34.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 46% Median Household Income: $30,883 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Arizona: Apache

Another county with a large population of American Indians, Apache county has the 14th highest poverty rate of the counties on our list. Apache county is quite rural, with only 6.4 people per square mile. The terrain is quite beautiful as the county is home to Petrified Forest National Park and Apache National Forest. If you’ve been to the Four Corners and stood on the Arizona side of that monument, you were standing in Apache. Poverty Rate: 34.5% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 41.8% Median Household Income: $30,651 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Arkansas: Lee

Lee county has seen a steep population decline of 17.1% from 2000 to 2010, despite the fact that Arkansas as a whole has seen a population increase in that time period. The county borders the Mississippi River on the east side of the state and has a total population just over 10,000. Poverty Rate: 37.5% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 46.1% Median Household Income: $25,944 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in California: Fresno 

The poorest county in the Golden State isn’t so golden. While Fresno’s poverty rate is relatively low compared to some of the other counties on our list, the county has a large number of people living below the poverty line – 245,330 to be exact. Only two other counties on our list have a larger number of residents living in poverty. Poverty Rate: 26.8% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 38.2% Median Household Income: $44,869 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Colorado: Crowley 

More than 30 miles east of Pueblo, Crowley county is one of the smallest counties on our list in terms of population size. There are about as many households in Crowley (1,163) as there are people living below the poverty line (1,087). Poverty Rate: 34.7% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 35.7% Median Household Income: $34,569 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Connecticut: Windham

If you’re thinking that a county with an 11.8% poverty rate doesn’t sound like a bad place to live, you’re right. Windham’s poverty rate is the lowest of any county on this list, but it is still the poorest county in Connecticut. To put this poverty rate in perspective, the U.S. poverty rate in 2010 was 15.3% and Windham’s poverty rate is far below the national average. Not too shabby. Poverty Rate: 11.8% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 15.3% Median Household Income: $56,564 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Delaware: Sussex

Another county with a poverty rate below the national average, Sussex has high home values and a home ownership rate higher than the state average. With only three counties in the state of Delaware, it’s not hard for Sussex to claim the poorest county title. Poverty Rate: 13.9% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 24% Median Household Income: $48,582 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Florida: DeSoto

About half an hour northeast of Fort Myers, DeSoto has a population of about 35,000. The county has lower high school and college graduation rates than the state average, but has a higher homeownership rate. DeSoto is in the poorer half of the counties on our list. Poverty Rate: 32.9% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 40.1% Median Household Income: $33,966 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Georgia: Stewart

On the Georgia-Alabama border, this county just barely misses the top 10 poorest counties on our list. Stewart is quite a small county, with a population of 6,058 in 2010. The county doesn’t seem to be growing by leaps and bounds either. There was only one building permit granted in 2010. Poverty Rate: 38.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 46.1% Median Household Income: $26,659 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Hawaii: Hawaii County

Similar to Delaware, Hawaii is a state with few counties to begin with, so take Hawaii county’s title of the poorest county in the state with a grain of salt. Hawaii county has a population that’s growing at almost double the rate of the state, the real estate values are high and the county’s building permits made up about 33% of the state’s total permits, suggesting that the county is growing. Poverty Rate: 18.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 24.5% Median Household Income: $46,444 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Idaho: Madison

About 30 miles northeast of Idaho Falls, Madison county is a small county with a growing population. From 2000 to 2010,  the county grew 36.7%. The homeownership is surprisingly low in this area, considering the median value of owner-occupied housing is $169,700, lower than the state average. Poverty Rate: 28.4% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 20.1% Median Household Income: $36,202 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Illinois: Alexander

Bordering both Missouri and Kentucky, Alexander county is on the poorer half of our list, but not by much. The county’s high percentage of children in poverty is rather high, but Alexander sticks out statistically because of its high percentage of women-owned businesses. According to the Census Bureau, 43.1% of firms in Alexander county are owned by women, a number that’s significantly higher than the state average of 30.5% or the national average of 28.8% . Poverty Rate: 31.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 49% Median Household Income: $29,278 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Indiana: Monroe

Normally, people associate institutions of higher education with a more affluent crowd, but the poorest county in Indiana is also home to Indiana University. The county also has significantly higher high school and college graduation rates than the state. Poverty Rate: 24.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 18.1% Median Household Income: $38,348 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Iowa: Decatur

On the Iowa-Missouri border, this county is just .28% of Iowa’s total population. Decatur also has a relatively high proportion of senior citizens – they make up 18.1% of the county’s population. Poverty Rate: 19.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 26.2% Median Household Income: $34,250 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Kansas: Wyandotte

Wyandotte county contains a major city – Kansas City – yet this county is the poorest in the state. The median household income is nothing to sneeze at though, and the poverty rates for kids is well below 50%, meaning that this county may be the poorest of a state that has some decent economic stability. Poverty Rate: 23.9% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 34.7% Median Household Income: $37,805 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Kentucky: Owsley

Owsley County is a small area in the eastern part of Kentucky, roughly 90 miles from Lexington. The homeownership rate is high in Owsley, with 76.3% of residents owning a home, higher than the Kentucky state average of 70.2%. However, the poverty rate for children still sits above 50%. Poverty Rate: 40.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 54.4% Median Household Income: $22,335 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Louisiana: East Carroll Parish

Located in the northeast part of the state near the Mississippi river, East Carroll Parish has seen a steep population decline from 2000 to 2010, losing 17.6% of its residents, as the state of Louisiana as a whole has grown in population 1.4% over that same time period. The poverty level for the area has actually dropped by four percentage points to 40.3% since 2009,  though it is still significantly above the state poverty rate of 18.7%. Poverty Rate: 40.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 53.7% Median Household Income: $25,442 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Maine: Washington

Washington county has a poverty rate that makes it the poorest in the state, but more than 900 counties have higher poverty rates in the U.S. Washington county has seen a decline in jobs in the area. Located about 10 miles from West Penobscot Bay, this county is small in population, but not in square miles. There are about 13 people per square mile. Poverty Rate: 19.4% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 30.9% Median Household Income: $32,847 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Maryland: Baltimore city

Baltimore city, which the census counts as its own county, has one of the largest populations of residents living in poverty on our list. Almost 150,000 Baltimore citizens live below the poverty line, and only three of every four residents are high school graduates. Poverty Rate: 24.7% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 34.3% Median Household Income: $38,186 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Massachusetts: Suffolk 

You may not know Suffolk county, but you probably know the major metro area that it contains – Boston. The county line leaves out some of the more affluent Boston areas like Cambridge and Brookline. The median household income is just under $50,000, one of the highest on our list. Poverty Rate: 22.6% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 30% Median Household Income: $49,584 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Michigan: Isabella

Located about 75 miles north of Lansing, Isabella county has a homeownership rate that’s lower than the state average and it has a high number of multi-unit structures, suggesting that renters dominate the area. And while the overall poverty rate is high, the poverty rate for children is 10 percentage points lower, which bucks the trend of almost every other state on our list. Poverty Rate: 32.5% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 22.5% Median Household Income: $35,644 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Minnesota: Mahnomen

Mahnomen county is one of the smallest counties on our list, with a population just over 5,000.The county has a large number of American Indian residents, representing a little more than 40% of the county’s population. In fact, the City of Mahnomen website says Mahnomen county is only one of seven counties in the U.S. that is entirely on a reservation. Poverty Rate: 22.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 33.9% Median Household Income: $35,978 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Mississippi: Issaquena

Issaquena County jumped up one spot on the list even though its poverty rate improved by two percentage points compared to last year. The county has one of the highest poverty rates for kids in the U.S. and has the second highest poverty rate of the counties on this list. Poverty Rate: 43.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 60.1% Median Household Income: $27,124 Photo Credit: Natalie Maynor


The Poorest County in Missouri: Pemiscot 

Like many of the counties from the South our list, home values in Pemiscot are quite low. The median value of owner-occupied units is $61,200, less than half of the state median value of $137,700. Poverty Rate: 31.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 47.5% Median Household Income: $28,152 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Montana: Glacier

Glacier county is a piece of American culture and history. Located between the Great Plains and the Rockies, this county is also home to Glacier Park, the Blackfeet reservation and the Lewis & Clark National Forest Lands. Poverty Rate: 28.8% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 38.2% Median Household Income: $32,460 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Nebraska: Thurston

Another rural county to make our list, Thurston is located  roughly 20 miles from Sioux City, Iowa. The county has a large American Indian population, which makes up 57.1% of its total residents. WhileThurston has a high poverty rate, the rest of the state has a poverty rate below even the national average. Poverty Rate: 26.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 37.2% Median Household Income: $36,343 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Nevada: Nye 

Nye county is by far one of the largest counties on our list in terms of area. At 109,781.18 square miles, Nye county takes up a large chunk of southern Nevada. The median household income in Nye is one of the highest on our list, breaking the $40,000 barrier. Poverty Rate: 18.7% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 27.8% Median Household Income: $41,054 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in New Hampshire: Coos 

One of only a select few counties on our list with a poverty rate that is below the national average, Coos county has a high homeownership rate and high home values. Poverty Rate: 14.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 21.4% Median Household Income: $37,708 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in New Jersey: Cumberland

Cumberland county is one of the larger counties on our list in terms of population, but what really makes Cumberland stand out is its high median household income. Almost breaking the $50,000 barrier, Cumberland demonstrates why New Jersey had several counties on our list of the richest counties in America. Poverty Rate: 17% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 26% Median Household Income: $49,964 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in New Mexico: McKinley

McKinley county is a unique part of our list because of its proximity to another county. That’s rights, two of the poorest counties in America actually border each other – McKinley and Apache county in Arizona. Like Apache, McKinley county is quite rural, with only 13 people per square mile. The county also has a large American Indian population at 75.5% of McKinley residents. Poverty Rate: 32.6% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 42.8% Median Household Income: $29,473 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in New York: Bronx 

One of New York’s five buroughs, Bronx county stands out because of its high property values in conjunction with its low median household income. The median owner-occupied home value is actually more than $80,000 higher than the state value while the poverty rate is significantly higher than the state’s. Poverty Rate: 30% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 42.2% Median Household Income: $32,674 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in North Carolina: Robeson

One the border with South Carolina, Robeson county is a county that shares a commonality with many on this list – a high number of American Indians as part of the population. According to the county’s website, Robeson is home to the Tuscarora and Lumbee tribes. Poverty Rate: 31.5% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 45.5% Median Household Income: $30,627 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in North Dakota: Sioux

On the whole, North Dakota has actually fared better than most states in recent years and has by far the lowest unemployment rate in the country, but Sioux County is a bit of an exception. Like some of the counties on this list, Sioux County is primarily made up of Native Americans. Poverty Rate: 41.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 51.8% Median Household Income: $28,338 Photo Credit: afiler


The Poorest County in Ohio: Pike

Just south of Chillicothe lies Pike county, a small area with just less than 30,000 residents. Pike has lower high school and college graduation rates than the state, but it’s poverty rate is relatively low compared to the other counties on our list. Poverty Rate: 26.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 36.9% Median Household Income: $35,051 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Oklahoma: Okfuskee 

About one in five Okfuskee residents are American Indian, and as you might have guessed, a large population of American Indians is a common trait of the counties on the list. Poverty Rate: 27.3% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 32.7% Median Household Income: $31,423 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Oregon: Malheur

The 10th poorest county on our list, Malheur has one of the most rural makeups of the counties on our list, with only 3.2 people per square mile. Poverty Rate: 39.5% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 39.9% Median Household Income: $32,412 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia

Philadelphia is in stark contrast with many of the other counties on our list because it is a major metro area. Only a handful of counties on our list could be considered as urban. The poverty rate and median household income fall in the middle of the counties on our list, but what makes this county stand out is the actual number of residents living below the poverty line - almost 400,000 in all. Poverty Rate: 26.4% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 36.4% Median Household Income: $34,667 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Rhode Island: Providence

As one of only five counties in the tiny state of Rhode Island, it’s easier for Providence to claim the title of the poorest county in the state because of the lack of competition. With a median household income well above $40,000, Providence is doing pretty well and more than 1,200 counties have higher poverty rates in the U.S. Poverty Rate: 17.5% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 25.3% Median Household Income: $45,572 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in South Carolina: Allendale

The overall poverty rate in Allendale County declined by just shy of a percentage point between 2009 and 2010. Poverty Rate: 40.4% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 47.1% Median Household Income:  $24,615 Photo Credit: Shoshanah


The Poorest County in South Dakota: Ziebach

Ziebach County has had the unfortunate distinction of being the county with the highest poverty rate since 2004 in part because like Sioux County, it is made up primarily of Native Americans with limited job opportunities. But if there’s any consolation, it’s that the poverty rate declined significantly from 62% in 2009 to just more than 50% in 2010. Still, it’s hard to celebrate when half the county is living below the poverty line. Poverty Rate: 50.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 52.2% Median Household Income: $25,669 Photo Credit: Keith011764


The Poorest County in Tennessee: Lake

Lake County is a small area with roughly 2,100 citizens living in poverty. Close to the Missouri border, this county has actually seen its poverty rate decline since 2009, when it was at 42.5%. Also, the cost of living in Lake County is relatively low, with the median value of owner-occupied housing units at $65,400 – about half of the median value of owner-occupied housing units for the state of Tennessee. Poverty Rate: 40.4% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 46.8% Median Household Income: $27,142 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Texas: Maverick 

This county borders Mexico and is home to 54,000 people, one-third of which are under 18 years old. Only 53.7% of Maverick’s residents have graduated from high school, compared with the 79.3% for Texas. And only 14% have graduated from college, compared to the state’s 25.4% Poverty Rate: 39.9% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 53.2% Median Household Income: $27,710 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Utah: San Juan 

There must be something about the Four Corners area of the country, because San Juan county is the third county on our list within close proximity of the landmark. Poverty Rate: 25.2% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 27.5% Median Household Income: $37,259 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Vermont: Essex

Another small county, Essex has a population just about 6,000 and the population is skewed to older Americans. The census says that 19.3% of residents are 65 or older. Poverty Rate: 17.2% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 26.5% Median Household Income: $34,947 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Virginia: Harrisonburg City 

Virginia had five counties on our list of the richest counties in America, with Loudoun county actually claiming the top spot. In fact, the state median household income from 2006-2010 was $61,406, about $24,000 more than the median income in Harrisonburg city. Poverty Rate: 30.1% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 21.9% Median Household Income: $37,179 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Washington: Whitman 

Whitman county has significantly higher high school and college graduation rates than the state averages, yet it still takes the cake as the poorest county in Washington. Poverty Rate: 24.4% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 15.7% Median Household Income: $39,251 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in West Virginia: McDowell 

McDowell county has the lowest median home values of any of the counties on our list at $32,800. That’s almost a third of the median home value for the state. Poverty Rate: 33.6% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 45.4% Median Household Income: $24, 133 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Wisconsin: Menominee

Another of the small counties on our list, Menominee has a population of 4,232 and makes up an extremely small percentage of the state’s total population. Poverty Rate: 29.8% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 47.9% Median Household Income: $31,509 Photo Credit: Getty Images


The Poorest County in Wyoming: Albany

Wyoming is one of only a few counties on our list with an overall poverty rate that is below the county’s poverty rate for children. The county’s largest city is Laramie. Poverty Rate: 20.7% Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 15.5% Median Household Income: $40,430 Photo Credit: Getty Images


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