Poorest Cities In Kentucky For 2020

We analyzed the over 140 places in Kentucky to determine which ones are at the bottom of the income ladder.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the poorest places in Kentucky.

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Kentucky brings to mind images of Frankfort, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, Kentucky has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in Kentucky that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 78 places in Kentucky with more than 5,000 people.

Again, 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.

What's the poorst city in Kentucky? According to the facts, Lebanon is the poorest place in Kentucky for 2020.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Kentucky or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more Kentucky reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Kentucky For 2020

Lebanon, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,621
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Median Income: $29,699 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.7% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.1% (7th highest)
More on Lebanon:  Data | Photos

Lebanon, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Kentucky thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 5,621 people averages the 7th lowest median household income in Kentucky and the 7th 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.

Somerset, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,376
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $25,227 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.7% (3rd highest)
More on Somerset:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Kentucky is Somerset.

The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 12th highest in the Bluegrass State.

Mayfield, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,940
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Median Income: $30,084 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.0% (9th highest)
More on Mayfield:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Mayfield's median income ranks as the 8th 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 28.971962616822427% 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.

Middlesborough, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,583
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $23,659 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (19th highest)
Poverty Rate: 40.6% (1st highest)
More on Middlesborough:  Data | Photos

Middlesborough ranks as the fourth poorest place in Kentucky.

The town ranks as having the 1st lowest median household income and the 1st 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.

Hazard, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,170
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $27,944 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.4% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.0% (22nd highest)
More on Hazard:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Kentucky is Hazard.

The city ranks as having the 3rd 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 22nd highest in Kentucky.

Still not the best news for Hazard.

Glasgow, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 14,370
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $32,561 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.2% (11th highest)
More on Glasgow:  Data | Photos

Glasgow ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Bluegrass State.

It ranks as having the 11th highest incidence of poverty and the 8th highest unemployment rate.

Williamsburg, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,269
Rank Last Year: 41 (Up 34)
Median Income: $31,270 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.4% (13th highest)
More on Williamsburg:  Data | Photos

Williamsburg places as the seventh poorest city in Kentucky.

The city of over 5,269 ranks as having the 13th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Harrodsburg, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,403
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $34,621 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.9% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.5% (19th highest)
More on Harrodsburg:  Data | Photos

Harrodsburg ranks as the eighth poorest city in Kentucky.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 4th highest in the state.

Richmond, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 34,566
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 5)
Median Income: $34,532 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.2% (18th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.5% (6th highest)
More on Richmond:  Data | Photos

Richmond couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in Kentucky; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 16th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Richmond ranks as having the 6th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Kentucky.

Russellville, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,008
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Median Income: $32,367 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.7% (15th highest)
More on Russellville:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Kentucky is Russellville.

The city of 7,008 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Bluegrass State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Kentucky for 2020

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 looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2014-2018 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The "median household income adjusted for the cost of living" attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they'd still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 78 places with more than 5,000 people in Kentucky, we ranked each place from 1 to 78 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, Lebanon, crowned the "Poorest Place In Kentucky For 2020". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Kentucky For 2020

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:

    Richest: Edgewood
    2nd Richest: Union
    3rd Richest: Fort Wright

For more Kentucky reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Kentucky

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Lebanon 5,621 30.1%
2 Somerset 11,376 33.7%
3 Mayfield 9,940 29.0%
4 Middlesborough 9,583 40.6%
5 Hazard 5,170 24.0%
6 Glasgow 14,370 28.2%
7 Williamsburg 5,269 26.4%
8 Harrodsburg 8,403 24.5%
9 Richmond 34,566 30.5%
10 Russellville 7,008 25.7%
11 Campbellsville 11,413 32.1%
12 Corbin 7,194 22.3%
13 London 8,020 26.7%
14 Ashland 20,822 24.8%
15 Maysville 8,797 22.4%
16 Monticello 6,088 22.1%
17 Newport 15,152 31.7%
18 Murray 19,037 34.1%
19 Hopkinsville 31,483 23.3%
20 Central City 5,822 23.6%
21 Covington 40,552 23.9%
22 Mount Sterling 7,180 24.0%
23 Bowling Green 65,731 25.2%
24 Cynthiana 6,348 25.8%
25 Pikeville 6,967 28.8%
26 Radcliff 22,693 22.0%
27 Shively 15,741 19.8%
28 Paris 9,874 23.8%
29 Paducah 24,879 22.3%
30 Henderson 28,800 22.5%
31 Nicholasville 29,977 22.1%
32 Winchester 18,413 20.7%
33 Leitchfield 6,784 22.3%
34 Oak Grove 7,411 20.6%
35 Madisonville 19,138 21.0%
36 Morehead 7,674 29.7%
37 Lawrenceburg 11,272 17.6%
38 Owensboro 59,188 20.6%
39 Versailles 9,192 24.0%
40 Dayton 5,422 21.1%
41 Danville 16,685 19.1%
42 Berea 15,188 20.5%
43 Frankfort 27,582 15.8%
44 Flatwoods 7,186 13.8%
45 Franklin 8,762 19.5%
46 Louisville 617,032 16.6%
47 Wilmore 6,299 25.1%
48 Bardstown 13,042 12.1%
49 Elsmere 8,570 19.8%
50 Elizabethtown 29,474 16.3%
51 Highland Heights 7,136 19.6%
52 Lexington 318,734 17.8%
53 Shepherdsville 12,117 15.1%
54 Princeton 6,157 15.8%
55 Shelbyville 15,660 14.6%
56 Florence 31,940 8.4%
57 Mount Washington 14,433 8.8%
58 Vine Grove 5,969 4.7%
59 Georgetown 32,902 13.1%
60 Bellevue 5,828 12.4%
61 Lyndon 11,427 7.1%
62 Taylor Mill 6,746 10.7%
63 La Grange 8,735 15.3%
64 Erlanger 18,776 10.6%
65 St. Matthews 18,147 9.4%
66 Alexandria 9,211 8.0%
67 Independence 27,183 6.2%
68 Villa Hills 7,410 4.0%
69 Jeffersontown 28,178 5.0%
70 Middletown 7,865 8.9%
71 Hillview 8,987 5.9%
72 Fort Thomas 16,313 6.1%
73 Douglass Hills 5,702 2.1%
74 Fort Mitchell 8,237 8.3%
75 Cold Spring 6,319 3.1%
76 Fort Wright 5,724 6.5%
77 Union 5,815 1.9%
78 Edgewood 8,723 4.6%

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About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

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