Like all states, Kentucky has certain places that are going on hard times. These Kentucky places have an above-average percentage of people living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.
Even as the economy continues to improve, it’s worthwhile to look at the places in each state struggling to make ends meet. So we set our sites on locating the poorest places in Kentucky.
To do so, we used Saturday Night Science to analyze the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 80 cities in Kentucky with more than 5,000 people.
What’s the poorest city in Kentucky? According to the facts, Middlesborough is the poorest place in Kentucky for 2023.
This isn’t a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it’s just a look at the facts.
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
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The 10 Poorest Cities In Kentucky For 2023
Middlesborough, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Kentucky thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 9,493 people averages the lowest median household income in Kentucky and the 2nd highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.
The second poorest city in Kentucky is Somerset.
The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 4th highest in the Bluegrass State.
Placing as the third poorest city, Morehead’s median income ranks as the 5th lowest.
And that’s a sign that there’s a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 35.248947238048046% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.
But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Bluegrass State.
Williamsburg ranks as the fourth poorest place in Kentucky.
The town ranks as having the 3rd lowest median household income and the 6th highest incidence of poverty in the state.
That being said, there’s still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.
The fifth poorest city in Kentucky is Mayfield.
The city ranks as having the 8th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 5th highest in Kentucky.
Still not the best news for Mayfield.
Lebanon ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Bluegrass State.
It ranks as having the 11th highest incidence of poverty and the 14th highest unemployment rate.
Leitchfield places as the seventh poorest city in Kentucky.
The city of over 6,427 ranks as having the 8th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Monticello ranks as the eighth poorest city in Kentucky.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 7th highest in the state.
Glasgow couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Kentucky; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 11th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Glasgow ranks as having the 10th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Kentucky.
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Kentucky is Murray.
The city of 17,241 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Bluegrass State.
Methodology: How We Determined The Poorest Places In Kentucky for 2023
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.
However, we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the “poorest places”. So we used Saturday Night Science to look at this set of criteria from the newly released 2017-2021 American Community Survey:
- Poverty Level
- Median Household Income
After we collected the data for all 80 places with more than 5,000 people in Kentucky, we ranked each place from 1 to 80 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.
We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a “Poor Score” with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Middlesborough, crowned the “Poorest Place In Kentucky For 2023”.
This report has been updated for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the poorest places in Kentucky.
Summary: The Poorest Cities In Kentucky For 2023
Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Kentucky, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Kentucky.
When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.
If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in Kentucky, according to data:
2nd Richest: Edgewood
3rd Richest: Villa Hills
For more Kentucky reading, check out:
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Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Kentucky
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