Poorest Cities In South Carolina For 2020


We analyzed the over 90 places in South Carolina 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 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the poorest places in South Carolina.

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South Carolina brings to mind images of Columbia, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

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

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 65 places in South Carolina with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in South Carolina for 2020:

  1. Abbeville (Photos)
  2. Cheraw (Photos)
  3. Union (Photos)
  4. Bennettsville (Photos)
  5. Georgetown (Photos)
  6. Lancaster (Photos)
  7. Chester (Photos)
  8. Marion (Photos)
  9. Orangeburg (Photos)
  10. Hartsville (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.

What's the poorst city in South Carolina? According to the facts, Abbeville is the poorest place in South Carolina for 2020.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in South 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 South Carolina reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In South Carolina For 2020

Abbeville, SC

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,079
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $23,493 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 17.6% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 41.8% (1st highest)
More on Abbeville:  Data | Photos

Abbeville, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in South Carolina thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 5,079 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in South Carolina and the 1st 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.

Cheraw, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 5,701
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,444 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.7% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.9% (6th highest)
More on Cheraw:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in South Carolina is Cheraw.

The city ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty and 7th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 3rd highest in the Palmetto State.

Union, SC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,878
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 8)
Median Income: $27,180 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.4% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.0% (3rd highest)
More on Union:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Union'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 36.04067447547947% 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 Palmetto State.

Bennettsville, SC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 8,308
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 5)
Median Income: $30,008 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.8% (4th highest)
More on Bennettsville:  Data | Photos

Bennettsville ranks as the fourth poorest place in South Carolina.

The town ranks as having the 8th lowest median household income and the 4th 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.

Georgetown, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,936
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Income: $30,972 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.4% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.1% (8th highest)
More on Georgetown:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in South Carolina is Georgetown.

The city ranks as having the 13th 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 8th highest in South Carolina.

Still not the best news for Georgetown.

Lancaster, SC

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 9,150
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 7)
Median Income: $30,933 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.0% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.3% (7th highest)
More on Lancaster:  Data | Photos

Lancaster ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Palmetto State.

It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 5th highest unemployment rate.

Chester, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,433
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $25,871 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.4% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.6% (21st highest)
More on Chester:  Data | Photos

Chester places as the seventh poorest city in South Carolina.

The city of over 5,433 ranks as having the 21st highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Marion, SC

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,548
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $34,561 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 20.5% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.1% (11th highest)
More on Marion:  Data | Photos

Marion ranks as the eighth poorest city in South Carolina.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 1st highest in the state.

Orangeburg, SC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 13,120
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $27,881 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.6% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.4% (17th highest)
More on Orangeburg:  Data | Photos

Orangeburg couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in South Carolina; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 4th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Orangeburg ranks as having the 17th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in South Carolina.

Hartsville, SC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,658
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Median Income: $31,806 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.6% (10th highest)
More on Hartsville:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in South Carolina is Hartsville.

The city of 7,658 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Palmetto State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In South Carolina for 2020

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 2014-2018 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 65 places with more than 5,000 people in South Carolina, we ranked each place from 1 to 65 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, Abbeville, crowned the "Poorest Place In South Carolina For 2020". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In South Carolina For 2020

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in South Carolina, we weren't sure what we'd encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in South 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 South Carolina, according to data:

    Richest: Mount Pleasant
    2nd Richest: James Island
    3rd Richest: Bluffton

For more South Carolina reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In South Carolina

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Abbeville 5,079 41.8%
2 Cheraw 5,701 34.9%
3 Union 7,878 36.0%
4 Bennettsville 8,308 35.8%
5 Georgetown 8,936 34.1%
6 Lancaster 9,150 34.3%
7 Chester 5,433 23.6%
8 Marion 6,548 32.1%
9 Orangeburg 13,120 26.4%
10 Hartsville 7,658 32.6%
11 Walterboro 5,503 25.8%
12 Darlington 6,034 21.9%
13 Dillon 6,456 31.7%
14 Clinton 8,508 28.1%
15 Lake City 6,658 35.0%
16 Greenwood 23,230 31.8%
17 Newberry 10,289 27.8%
18 Central 5,241 33.5%
19 Laurens 8,914 29.3%
20 Gaffney 12,526 26.3%
21 Sumter 39,964 20.7%
22 Conway 22,661 21.2%
23 Spartanburg 37,370 24.4%
24 Anderson 27,129 23.1%
25 Myrtle Beach 31,783 22.4%
26 Batesburg-Leesville 5,424 20.0%
27 Clemson 15,966 39.9%
28 North Charleston 109,886 22.8%
29 Columbia 133,352 22.5%
30 Clover 5,955 19.6%
31 York 8,062 17.4%
32 Port Royal 12,446 12.9%
33 Seneca 8,290 19.7%
34 Rock Hill 71,903 17.7%
35 Florence 37,802 18.5%
36 Cayce 13,621 18.5%
37 West Columbia 17,296 17.4%
38 North Augusta 22,603 13.3%
39 Beaufort 13,336 20.8%
40 Easley 20,784 12.2%
41 Camden 7,060 13.7%
42 Fountain Inn 8,684 8.8%
43 Aiken 30,464 13.9%
44 Greenville 65,727 13.9%
45 North Myrtle Beach 15,862 11.0%
46 Irmo 12,087 9.3%
47 Summerville 50,894 12.6%
48 Hardeeville 5,836 14.4%
49 Charleston 133,762 14.3%
50 Travelers Rest 5,063 13.6%
51 Moncks Corner 10,169 12.9%
52 Goose Creek 41,339 10.1%
53 Hilton Head Island 39,820 11.1%
54 Forest Acres 10,433 11.1%
55 Greer 29,717 11.6%
56 Hollywood 5,119 10.9%
57 Hanahan 22,963 12.2%
58 Mauldin 25,009 7.8%
59 Lexington 21,040 8.6%
60 Tega Cay 9,954 0.7%
61 Simpsonville 21,423 7.6%
62 Fort Mill 15,924 8.2%
63 Bluffton 18,835 2.7%
64 James Island 12,010 4.8%
65 Mount Pleasant 83,700 4.7%

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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.

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