These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In North Carolina For 2019


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

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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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the poorest places in North Carolina.

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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 132 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 2019:

  1. Roxboro (Photos)
  2. Boone (Photos)
  3. Forest City (Photos)
  4. Henderson (Photos)
  5. Laurinburg (Photos)
  6. Lexington (Photos)
  7. Ayden
  8. Wadesboro (Photos)
  9. Selma (Photos)
  10. Kinston (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 2019.

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.

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

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In North Carolina for 2019

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 2013-2017 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 132 places with more than 5,000 people in North Carolina, we ranked each place from 1 to 132 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 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 132 places.

Roxboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,273
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $23,250 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.7% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.5% (4th highest)
More on Roxboro:  Data | Photos

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 8,273 people averages the 2nd lowest median household income in North Carolina and the 4th 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.

Boone, NC

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 18,493
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $17,424 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.9% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 58.4% (1st highest)
More on Boone:  Data | Photos

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.

Forest City, NC

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 7,250
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 4)
Median Income: $24,383 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.0% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.4% (3rd highest)
More on Forest City:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Forest City’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 37.4% 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.

Henderson, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 15,009
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $26,256 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.7% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.1% (9th highest)
More on Henderson:  Data | Photos

Henderson ranks as the fourth poorest place in North Carolina.

The town ranks as having the 4th lowest median household income and the 9th 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.

Laurinburg, NC

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 15,320
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $28,187 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.2% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.8% (7th highest)
More on Laurinburg:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in North Carolina is Laurinburg.

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 7th highest in North Carolina.

Still not the best news for Laurinburg.

Lexington, NC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 18,916
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Income: $29,199 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.3% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.0% (10th highest)
More on Lexington:  Data | Photos

Lexington ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Tar Heel State.

It ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty and the 9th highest unemployment rate.

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 5,120
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 3)
Median Income: $30,753 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.7% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.3% (12th highest)
More on Ayden:  Data

Ayden places as the seventh poorest city in North Carolina.

The city of over 5,120 ranks as having the 12th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Wadesboro, NC

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 5,414
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 5)
Median Income: $30,697 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.6% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.0% (16th highest)
More on Wadesboro:  Data | Photos

Wadesboro ranks as the eighth poorest city in North Carolina.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 3rd highest in the state.

Selma, NC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,375
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $28,933 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.9% (24th highest)
Poverty Rate: 40.3% (2nd highest)
More on Selma:  Data | Photos

Selma 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, Selma ranks as having the 2nd most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in North Carolina.

Kinston, NC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 21,004
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 2)
Median Income: $29,927 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.0% (13th highest)
More on Kinston:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in North Carolina is Kinston.

The city of 21,004 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 2019

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: Summerfield

For more North Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In North Carolina

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Roxboro 8,273 36.5%
2 Boone 18,493 58.4%
3 Forest City 7,250 37.4%
4 Henderson 15,009 31.1%
5 Laurinburg 15,320 33.8%
6 Lexington 18,916 31.0%
7 Ayden 5,120 30.3%
8 Wadesboro 5,414 29.0%
9 Selma 6,375 40.3%
10 Kinston 21,004 30.0%
11 Lincolnton 10,574 30.6%
12 Dunn 9,657 29.6%
13 Rockingham 9,094 28.8%
14 Siler City 8,116 29.1%
15 Washington 9,721 24.2%
16 Long View 5,013 24.3%
17 Goldsboro 35,432 25.9%
18 Shelby 20,058 28.0%
19 Clinton 8,630 28.8%
20 Eden 15,235 25.7%
21 Lumberton 21,366 35.6%
22 Greenville 90,347 32.1%
23 Statesville 25,872 26.2%
24 Oxford 8,614 26.5%
25 Whiteville 5,487 35.8%
26 Elizabeth City 17,732 26.7%
27 Albemarle 15,874 25.9%
28 Roanoke Rapids 15,107 26.7%
29 Salisbury 33,561 22.9%
30 Hamlet 6,401 24.1%
31 Lenoir 17,890 22.3%
32 Kings Mountain 10,929 21.0%
33 Rocky Mount 55,373 22.4%
34 Bessemer City 5,411 19.2%
35 Williamston 5,398 18.0%
36 Reidsville 13,933 24.2%
37 Asheboro 25,863 22.6%
38 Smithfield 11,824 23.2%
39 Marion 7,752 20.7%
40 Spring Lake 12,746 19.1%
41 Graham 14,540 27.6%
42 Woodfin 6,394 23.9%
43 Thomasville 26,901 20.1%
44 Wilson 49,237 22.8%
45 Tarboro 11,038 16.6%
46 Fayetteville 210,324 19.3%
47 New Bern 29,664 20.3%
48 Mocksville 5,130 23.0%
49 Monroe 34,368 21.5%
50 Morganton 16,478 21.2%
51 Wilmington 115,261 23.2%
52 Jacksonville 73,661 14.0%
53 Waynesville 9,804 22.2%
54 Gastonia 74,381 19.1%
55 Burlington 52,813 20.5%
56 Morehead City 9,200 21.3%
57 Newton 12,991 15.2%
58 High Point 109,849 19.4%
59 Cherryville 5,854 16.0%
60 Mount Airy 10,198 22.8%
61 Hickory 40,157 17.8%
62 Sanford 29,051 20.0%
63 Hendersonville 13,620 21.9%
64 Conover 8,288 24.1%
65 Angier 5,151 9.8%
66 Kannapolis 46,498 16.1%
67 Butner 7,709 17.0%
68 Greensboro 284,816 19.2%
69 Sawmills 5,161 19.6%
70 Havelock 20,404 12.8%
71 Hope Mills 16,106 14.3%
72 Southern Pines 13,426 15.2%
73 Brevard 7,759 13.6%
74 Kill Devil Hills 6,978 14.4%
75 Charlotte 826,060 14.9%
76 Mount Holly 14,948 10.0%
77 Nashville 5,473 10.8%
78 Hillsborough 7,033 13.0%
79 Black Mountain 8,110 5.9%
80 Leland 18,023 15.3%
81 Durham 257,232 17.4%
82 Elon 9,939 18.6%
83 Archdale 11,509 9.2%
84 Concord 87,607 11.9%
85 Asheville 89,318 15.1%
86 Chapel Hill 59,234 20.3%
87 Pineville 8,418 9.7%
88 Kernersville 23,988 13.9%
89 Gibsonville 6,845 13.0%
90 Trinity 6,610 14.0%
91 Mebane 14,426 10.7%
92 Boiling Spring Lakes 5,777 5.2%
93 Carrboro 21,099 16.4%
94 Belmont 11,373 12.8%
95 Aberdeen 7,265 13.1%
96 Clayton 19,306 8.8%
97 Garner 28,048 12.1%
98 Raleigh 449,477 14.0%
99 Rolesville 6,308 2.5%
100 Wendell 6,516 18.3%

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