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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 137 places in North Carolina 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 North Carolina? According to the facts, Boone is the poorest place in North Carolina for 2021.
For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In North Carolina
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The 10 Poorest Cities In North Carolina For 2021
Boone, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in North Carolina thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 19,119 people averages the lowest median household income in North Carolina and the 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 North Carolina is Wadesboro.
The city ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 3rd highest in the Tar Heel State.
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 36.94602272727273% 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.
Laurinburg ranks as the fourth poorest place in North Carolina.
The town ranks as having the 9th lowest median household income and the 5th 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 North Carolina is Roxboro.
The city ranks as having the 11th 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 4th highest in North Carolina.
Still not the best news for Roxboro.
Kinston ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Tar Heel State.
It ranks as having the 13th highest incidence of poverty and the 2nd highest unemployment rate.
Lexington places as the seventh poorest city in North Carolina.
The city of over 18,861 ranks as having the 18th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Rockingham ranks as the eighth poorest city in North Carolina.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 17th highest in the state.
Washington couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in North Carolina; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 13th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Washington ranks as having the 14th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in North Carolina.
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in North Carolina is Tarboro.
The city of 10,915 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Tar Heel State.
How We Determined The Poorest Places In North Carolina 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 137 places with more than 5,000 people in North Carolina, we ranked each place from 1 to 137 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, Boone, crowned the "Poorest Place In North Carolina For 2021". You can download the data here.
There You Have It - The Poorest Places In North Carolina For 2021
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:
2nd Richest: Marvin
3rd Richest: Davidson
For more North Carolina reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In North Carolina
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Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In North Carolina
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