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 South Carolina 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 poorest places in South Carolina.
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.
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, Lancaster is the poorest place in South Carolina for 2023.
To see how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.
For more South Carolina reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In South Carolina
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- The poorest states in the US
- The poorest cities in the US
The 10 Poorest Cities In South Carolina For 2023
Lancaster, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in South Carolina thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 8,489 people averages the 5th lowest median household income in South 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.
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $29,738 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.8% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.5% (4th highest)
More on Lancaster:
The second poorest city in South Carolina is Cheraw.
The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 3rd highest in the Palmetto State.
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $29,276 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.7% (3rd highest)
More on Cheraw:
Placing as the third poorest city, Orangeburg’s median income ranks as the 2nd 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 32.13500334640023% 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.
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $28,597 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.0% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.1% (7th highest)
More on Orangeburg:
Union ranks as the fourth poorest place in South Carolina.
The town ranks as having the 3rd lowest median household income and the 14th 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.
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Income: $28,841 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.5% (14th highest)
More on Union:
The fifth poorest city in South Carolina is Marion.
The city ranks as having the 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 5th highest in South Carolina.
Still not the best news for Marion.
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $27,024 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (17th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.0% (5th highest)
More on Marion:
Chester ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Palmetto State.
It ranks as having the 9th highest incidence of poverty and the 12th highest unemployment rate.
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Income: $31,210 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.4% (9th highest)
More on Chester:
Darlington places as the seventh poorest city in South Carolina.
The city of over 6,153 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.
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Median Income: $31,652 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.7% (12th highest)
More on Darlington:
Gaffney ranks as the eighth poorest city in South Carolina.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 5th highest in the state.
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $33,514 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.2% (17th highest)
More on Gaffney:
Clinton couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in South Carolina; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 12th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Clinton ranks as having the 11th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in South Carolina.
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Median Income: $35,462 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 26.8% (11th highest)
More on Clinton:
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in South Carolina is Hartsville.
The city of 7,565 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Palmetto State.
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Income: $40,716 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (20th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.6% (8th highest)
More on Hartsville:
Methodology: How We Determined The Poorest Places In South Carolina for 2023
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 2017-2021 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, Lancaster, crowned the “Poorest Place In South Carolina For 2023”.
This report has been updated for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the poorest places in South Carolina.
Summary: The Poorest Places In South Carolina For 2023
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: Tega Cay
2nd Richest: James Island
3rd Richest: Fort Mill
For more South Carolina reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In South Carolina
- Safest Places In South Carolina
- Worst Places To Live In South Carolina
- Most Expensive Places To Live In South Carolina
Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In South Carolina
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