These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In North Carolina For 2018

We used science and data to determine which places in North Carolina are basically dead broke.

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North Carolina brings to mind images of Raleigh, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, North Carolina 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 North Carolina that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 134 places in North Carolina with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Tar Heel State for 2018:

  1. Roxboro (Photos)
  2. Boone (Photos)
  3. Henderson
  4. Ayden
  5. Lexington (Photos)
  6. Laurinburg (Photos)
  7. Forest City (Photos)
  8. Kinston (Photos)
  9. Eden
  10. Selma (Photos)

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.

And according to the facts, Roxboro is the poorest place in North Carolina for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in North Carolina or the most dangerous.

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

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How We Determined The Poorest Places In North Carolina For 2018

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 2012-2016 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 134 places with more than 5,000 people in North Carolina, we ranked each place from 1 to 134 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, Roxboro, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In North Carolina For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 134 places.

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1. Roxboro

Roxboro, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,329
Median Income: $21,516
Unemployment Rate: 23.9%
Poverty Rate: 35.3%
Roxboro, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in North Carolina thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 8,329 people averages the 2nd lowest median household income in North Carolina 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. Boone

Boone, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 18,241
Median Income: $14,725
Unemployment Rate: 17.1%
Poverty Rate: 62.2%
The second poorest city in North Carolina is Boone.

The city ranks as having the 1st highest incidence of poverty and 1st lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 6th highest in the Tar Heel State.

3. Henderson

Henderson, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 15,258
Median Income: $22,297
Unemployment Rate: 16.8%
Poverty Rate: 35.0%
Placing as the third poorest city, Henderson’s median income ranks as the 3rd 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 35.0% 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 Tar Heel State.

4. Ayden

Population: 5,167
Median Income: $29,139
Unemployment Rate: 19.6%
Poverty Rate: 31.2%
Ayden ranks as the fourth poorest place in North Carolina.

The town ranks as having the 9th lowest median household income and the 10th 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. Lexington

Lexington, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 19,089
Median Income: $27,437
Unemployment Rate: 18.2%
Poverty Rate: 30.8%
The fifth poorest city in North Carolina is Lexington.

The city ranks as having the 6th 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 12th highest in North Carolina.

Still not the best news for Lexington.

6. Laurinburg

Laurinburg, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 15,601
Median Income: $26,216
Unemployment Rate: 14.0%
Poverty Rate: 36.6%
Laurinburg ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Tar Heel State.

It ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and the 16th highest unemployment rate.

7. Forest City

Forest City, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,356
Median Income: $25,689
Unemployment Rate: 13.8%
Poverty Rate: 34.8%
Forest City places as the seventh poorest city in North Carolina.

The city of over 7,356 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.

8. Kinston

Kinston, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 21,393
Median Income: $31,030
Unemployment Rate: 15.4%
Poverty Rate: 30.3%
Kinston ranks as the eighth poorest city in North Carolina.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 9th highest in the state.

9. Eden

Eden, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 15,434
Median Income: $28,908
Unemployment Rate: 13.8%
Poverty Rate: 31.0%
Eden couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in North Carolina; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 8th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Eden ranks as having the 11th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in North Carolina.

10. Selma

Selma, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,325
Median Income: $27,982
Unemployment Rate: 12.1%
Poverty Rate: 37.2%
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in North Carolina is Selma.

The city of 6,325 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Tar Heel State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In North Carolina For 2018

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in North Carolina, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in North Carolina.

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 North Carolina, according to data:

Richest: Weddington
2nd Richest: Oak Ridge
3rd Richest: Marvin

For more North Carolina reading , check out:

  • These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In North Carolina
  • These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In North Carolina
  • These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In North Carolina
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In North Carolina

    City Rank Poverty Rate
    Roxboro 1 35.3%
    Boone 2 62.2%
    Henderson 3 35.0%
    Ayden 4 31.2%
    Lexington 5 30.8%
    Laurinburg 6 36.6%
    Forest City 7 34.8%
    Kinston 8 30.3%
    Eden 9 31.0%
    Selma 10 37.2%
    Whiteville 11 36.8%
    Long View 12 28.7%
    Wadesboro 13 26.3%
    Dunn 14 27.0%
    Lincolnton 15 27.3%
    Goldsboro 16 25.3%
    Clinton 17 29.4%
    Rockingham 18 27.6%
    Shelby 19 28.2%
    Hamlet 20 28.2%
    Lumberton 21 35.1%
    Oxford 22 25.8%
    Statesville 23 25.3%
    Greenville 24 32.0%
    Marion 25 24.8%
    Bessemer City 26 22.1%
    Siler City 27 28.3%
    Lenoir 28 22.8%
    Washington 29 22.1%
    Elizabeth City 30 24.3%
    Rocky Mount 31 25.0%
    Salisbury 32 24.6%
    Roanoke Rapids 33 26.7%
    Kings Mountain 34 21.5%
    Albemarle 35 25.0%
    Graham 36 27.8%
    Thomasville 37 21.0%
    Newton 38 19.8%
    Asheboro 39 23.9%
    Smithfield 40 23.9%
    Williamston 41 16.4%
    Spring Lake 42 20.9%
    Reidsville 43 23.1%
    Woodfin 44 22.3%
    Wilson 45 25.4%
    Morganton 46 24.4%
    Winston-Salem 47 24.3%
    Tarboro 48 16.3%
    Hendersonville 49 24.9%
    Morehead City 50 23.0%
    New Bern 51 19.1%
    Sanford 52 22.6%
    Fayetteville 53 18.4%
    Conover 54 25.2%
    Gastonia 55 20.0%
    Burlington 56 22.1%
    Monroe 57 20.3%
    High Point 58 21.2%
    Wilmington 59 22.9%
    Mount Airy 60 21.5%
    Jacksonville 61 13.5%
    Greensboro 62 19.9%
    Kannapolis 63 17.7%
    Hickory 64 18.7%
    Waynesville 65 23.1%
    Angier 66 11.2%
    Cherryville 67 12.0%
    Havelock 68 13.4%
    Brevard 69 13.5%
    Sawmills 70 17.3%
    Mocksville 71 17.7%
    Hope Mills 72 14.2%
    Pineville 73 12.5%
    Butner 74 15.8%
    Charlotte 75 15.8%
    Kill Devil Hills 76 11.7%
    Southern Pines 77 14.5%
    Mount Holly 78 10.7%
    Black Mountain 79 12.1%
    Durham 80 18.5%
    Asheville 81 16.2%
    Elon 82 17.5%
    Concord 83 12.8%
    Nashville 84 16.1%
    Aberdeen 85 15.6%
    Gibsonville 86 13.9%
    Hillsborough 87 16.3%
    Belmont 88 11.4%
    Kernersville 89 15.5%
    Chapel Hill 90 20.1%
    Oak Island 91 8.7%
    Carolina Beach 92 13.5%
    Leland 93 14.2%
    Raleigh 94 14.9%
    Mebane 95 11.1%
    Boiling Spring Lakes 96 5.7%
    Wendell 97 17.1%
    Clayton 98 8.1%
    Rolesville 99 6.8%
    Mooresville 100 10.1%

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