Poorest Cities In Kentucky For 2021

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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in Kentucky.

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 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best 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 2021

1. Lebanon

Lebanon, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,644
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $30,031 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.2% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.8% (5th 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 5,644 people averages the 5th lowest median household income in Kentucky and the 5th 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.

2. Middlesborough

Middlesborough, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,395
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Median Income: $25,488 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.5% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 38.5% (highest)
More on Middlesborough:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Kentucky is Middlesborough.

The city ranks as having the highest incidence of poverty and lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 13th highest in the Bluegrass State.

3. Mayfield

Mayfield, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 9,867
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $32,289 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.7% (2nd highest)
More on Mayfield:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Mayfield's median income ranks as the 11th 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 34.679359765665865% 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.

4. Somerset

Somerset, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,447
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Income: $29,611 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.4% (7th highest)
More on Somerset:  Data | Photos

Somerset ranks as the fourth poorest place in Kentucky.

The town ranks as having the 3rd lowest median household income and the 7th 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.

5. Williamsburg

Williamsburg, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,260
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Median Income: $27,342 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.4% (11th highest)
More on Williamsburg:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Kentucky is Williamsburg.

The city ranks as having the 2nd 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 11th highest in Kentucky.

Still not the best news for Williamsburg.

6. Monticello

Monticello, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,070
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 10)
Median Income: $31,639 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.3% (9th highest)
More on Monticello:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 9th highest incidence of poverty and the 4th highest unemployment rate.

7. Russellville

Russellville, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,039
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Income: $36,840 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.1% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.8% (17th highest)
More on Russellville:  Data | Photos

Russellville places as the seventh poorest city in Kentucky.

The city of over 7,039 ranks as having the 17th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Glasgow

Glasgow, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 14,393
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $35,138 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.6% (12th highest)
More on Glasgow:  Data | Photos

Glasgow ranks as the eighth poorest city in Kentucky.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 14th highest in the state.

9. Richmond

Richmond, KY

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 35,133
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,302 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (18th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.3% (8th 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 15th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Richmond ranks as having the 8th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Kentucky.

10. Campbellsville

Campbellsville, KY

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,419
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $31,107 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (28th highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.5% (16th highest)
More on Campbellsville:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 11,419 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 2021

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 2015-2019 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 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Kentucky For 2021

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

For more Kentucky reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Kentucky

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Lebanon 5,644 31.8%
2 Middlesborough 9,395 38.5%
3 Mayfield 9,867 34.7%
4 Somerset 11,447 31.4%
5 Williamsburg 5,260 28.4%
6 Monticello 6,070 30.3%
7 Russellville 7,039 24.8%
8 Glasgow 14,393 27.6%
9 Richmond 35,133 30.3%
10 Campbellsville 11,419 25.5%
11 Morehead 7,653 31.9%
12 Newport 15,123 32.4%
13 Ashland 20,626 24.5%
14 Pikeville 6,810 29.2%
15 Maysville 8,782 23.4%
16 Cynthiana 6,312 27.5%
17 Mount Sterling 7,166 24.8%
18 Harrodsburg 8,418 21.3%
19 Murray 19,171 31.7%
20 Corbin 7,325 22.8%
21 Covington 40,548 23.1%
22 Hopkinsville 31,056 22.4%
23 Oak Grove 7,338 20.4%
24 Hazard 5,046 22.0%
25 Madisonville 18,936 22.4%
26 Radcliff 22,639 20.6%
27 Bowling Green 67,600 24.4%
28 Shively 15,726 19.4%
29 Danville 16,730 18.6%
30 Henderson 28,625 22.7%
31 Nicholasville 30,301 21.5%
32 Leitchfield 6,807 26.1%
33 London 8,059 26.4%
34 Paducah 24,894 21.6%
35 Lawrenceburg 11,350 19.0%
36 Versailles 9,215 22.2%
37 Winchester 18,429 19.4%
38 Central City 5,808 17.6%
39 Owensboro 59,536 21.7%
40 Paris 9,817 20.3%
41 Franklin 8,835 21.5%
42 Flatwoods 7,160 19.0%
43 Dayton 5,496 21.0%
44 Berea 15,474 19.8%
45 Elizabethtown 29,620 15.5%
46 Wilmore 6,335 22.9%
47 Louisville 617,790 15.9%
48 Elsmere 8,567 16.8%
49 Bardstown 13,094 11.2%
50 Lexington 320,601 16.8%
51 Princeton 6,116 17.6%
52 Frankfort 27,680 16.3%
53 Highland Heights 7,149 18.5%
54 Florence 32,369 8.5%
55 Shepherdsville 12,218 15.1%
56 Shelbyville 16,009 12.2%
57 Bellevue 5,804 13.1%
58 Lyndon 11,431 7.8%
59 Vine Grove 6,106 4.3%
60 Georgetown 33,605 12.5%
61 Erlanger 18,967 9.4%
62 La Grange 8,854 14.8%
63 Alexandria 9,425 7.3%
64 Jeffersontown 28,035 6.3%
65 Middletown 7,891 11.0%
66 Mount Washington 14,567 6.6%
67 St. Matthews 18,161 7.4%
68 Taylor Mill 6,763 9.2%
69 Cold Spring 6,401 3.4%
70 Hillview 9,071 4.1%
71 Independence 27,683 5.6%
72 Fort Thomas 16,308 5.2%
73 Fort Mitchell 8,257 5.5%
74 Villa Hills 7,449 5.2%
75 Douglass Hills 5,710 0.8%
76 Edgewood 8,745 2.2%
77 Fort Wright 5,745 3.9%
78 Union 5,910 0.9%

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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.