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 (Photos)
  4. Ayden
  5. Lexington (Photos)
  6. Laurinburg (Photos)
  7. Forest City (Photos)
  8. Kinston (Photos)
  9. Eden (Photos)
  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.

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.

1. Roxboro

Roxboro, North Carolina

Population: 8,329
Median Income: $21,516
Unemployment Rate: 23.9%
Poverty Rate: 35.3%
More on Roxboro: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

Population: 18,241
Median Income: $14,725
Unemployment Rate: 17.1%
Poverty Rate: 62.2%
More on Boone: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

Population: 15,258
Median Income: $22,297
Unemployment Rate: 16.8%
Poverty Rate: 35.0%
More on Henderson: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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.

User comment that mentions Henderson: You for got to discuss Henderson NC.||30 minutes North of Durham on I85.||It is known as Little Iraq.||The place is a real crap hole.||Even the local Ford dealer is involved with the drug distribution. ||This town is the distribution center for all the drugs and wepons from NYC.||Check it out.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

4. Ayden


Population: 5,167
Median Income: $29,139
Unemployment Rate: 19.6%
Poverty Rate: 31.2%
More on Ayden: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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: Public domain

Population: 19,089
Median Income: $27,437
Unemployment Rate: 18.2%
Poverty Rate: 30.8%
More on Lexington: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

Population: 15,601
Median Income: $26,216
Unemployment Rate: 14.0%
Poverty Rate: 36.6%
More on Laurinburg: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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.

User comment that mentions Laurinburg: I moved to Laurinburg,NC a few years ago. I grew up around, & in the Washington,D.C area. It is absolutley chilling how F’stupid people are here in southern NC compared to the rest of the country. I have traveled to all the 48 states, & I don’t make this statement lightly. To give specifics, I would have to have a reason worth while. It’s exhausting enough just trying to coexist w/these people.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

7. Forest City

Forest City, North Carolina

Population: 7,356
Median Income: $25,689
Unemployment Rate: 13.8%
Poverty Rate: 34.8%
More on Forest City: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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.

User comment that mentions Forest City: I moved from the west coast to live in Forest City 20 yrs ago. I chose Forest City because of the lack of density of population. Great people, great little town

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

8. Kinston

Kinston, North Carolina

Population: 21,393
Median Income: $31,030
Unemployment Rate: 15.4%
Poverty Rate: 30.3%
More on Kinston: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

Population: 15,434
Median Income: $28,908
Unemployment Rate: 13.8%
Poverty Rate: 31.0%
More on Eden: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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.

User comment that mentions Eden: I’ve lived in Eden most of my life. I did move to Rock Hill,SC for 10+ years & it was a shock to me when I moved back in 2005 at how many of my highschool friends that were going places are addicted to crack cocaine and narcotic pain medications. Really pitiful situations. But my immediate family all live in Eden & I’ve always felt safe. U just have to stay out of certain neighborhoods and/or areas.

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

10. Selma

Selma, North Carolina

Population: 6,325
Median Income: $27,982
Unemployment Rate: 12.1%
Poverty Rate: 37.2%
More on Selma: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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:

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

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

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