These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In South Carolina For 2019

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 2019. This is our fourth 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 63 places in South Carolina with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Palmetto State for 2019:

  1. Abbeville (Photos)
  2. Cheraw (Photos)
  3. Georgetown (Photos)
  4. Central (Photos)
  5. Marion (Photos)
  6. Hartsville (Photos)
  7. Lake City (Photos)
  8. Chester (Photos)
  9. Bennettsville (Photos)
  10. Orangeburg (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, Abbeville is the poorest place in South Carolina for 2019.

Rich people not 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:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In South 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 63 places with more than 5,000 people in South Carolina, we ranked each place from 1 to 63 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 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 63 places.

Abbeville, SC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,103
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $22,165 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.7% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 39.9% (2nd 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 5,103 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in South Carolina and the 2nd 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


Population: 5,702
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $24,504 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 20.8% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.1% (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 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 1st highest in the Palmetto State.

Georgetown, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,960
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $31,273 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.1% (4th highest)
More on Georgetown:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Georgetown’s median income ranks as the 14th 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 37.1% 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.

Central, SC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,161
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 5)
Median Income: $26,623 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.8% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 40.8% (1st highest)
More on Central:  Data | Photos

Central ranks as the fourth poorest place in South Carolina.

The town ranks as having the 4th lowest median household income and the 1st 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.

Marion, SC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,590
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $31,725 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.4% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.3% (5th highest)
More on Marion:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in South Carolina is Marion.

The city ranks as having the 16th 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.

Hartsville, SC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 7,694
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Income: $28,070 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.1% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.9% (10th highest)
More on Hartsville:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty and the 7th highest unemployment rate.

Lake City, SC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 6,697
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 6)
Median Income: $30,158 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.6% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.5% (11th highest)
More on Lake City:  Data | Photos

Lake City places as the seventh poorest city in South Carolina.

The city of over 6,697 ranks as having the 11th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Chester, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,446
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $23,919 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.0% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.2% (18th highest)
More on Chester:  Data | Photos

Chester ranks as the eighth poorest city in South Carolina.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 11th highest in the state.

Bennettsville, SC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,493
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 5)
Median Income: $31,537 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.1% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.2% (9th highest)
More on Bennettsville:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 15th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Bennettsville ranks as having the 9th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in South Carolina.

Orangeburg, SC

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,215
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 6)
Median Income: $27,564 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.6% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.8% (15th highest)
More on Orangeburg:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 13,215 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Palmetto State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In South Carolina For 2019

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 5,103 39.9%
2 Cheraw 5,702 35.1%
3 Georgetown 8,960 37.1%
4 Central 5,161 40.8%
5 Marion 6,590 36.3%
6 Hartsville 7,694 32.9%
7 Lake City 6,697 32.5%
8 Chester 5,446 27.2%
9 Bennettsville 8,493 34.2%
10 Orangeburg 13,215 27.8%
11 Union 7,926 30.4%
12 Darlington 6,075 25.6%
13 Lancaster 8,948 29.0%
14 Greenwood 23,148 34.7%
15 Walterboro 5,143 25.1%
16 Dillon 6,540 35.1%
17 Clinton 8,538 30.6%
18 Newberry 10,257 26.8%
19 Conway 21,534 25.7%
20 Laurens 8,931 27.5%
21 Gaffney 12,756 27.7%
22 Anderson 27,011 23.2%
23 Myrtle Beach 30,760 23.8%
24 Sumter 40,286 20.8%
25 Spartanburg 37,384 24.6%
26 Columbia 132,236 22.3%
27 Clemson 15,375 38.8%
28 Clover 5,731 21.2%
29 North Charleston 108,186 22.8%
30 York 8,001 25.5%
31 Rock Hill 70,764 18.1%
32 Florence 37,840 17.4%
33 Port Royal 12,218 16.0%
34 Cayce 13,668 21.2%
35 West Columbia 17,056 18.0%
36 Hardeeville 5,084 21.9%
37 Seneca 8,199 19.9%
38 North Augusta 22,268 12.8%
39 Camden 7,000 16.7%
40 Easley 20,521 13.1%
41 Beaufort 13,413 19.3%
42 Irmo 11,950 13.0%
43 Greenville 64,061 15.3%
44 Aiken 30,277 15.9%
45 North Myrtle Beach 15,510 12.1%
46 Summerville 49,122 10.4%
47 Fountain Inn 8,455 10.8%
48 Greer 28,587 13.8%
49 Moncks Corner 9,759 13.5%
50 Goose Creek 41,040 10.2%
51 Charleston 131,204 14.6%
52 Mauldin 24,813 5.9%
53 Hollywood 5,083 9.3%
54 Hanahan 21,729 10.6%
55 Simpsonville 20,741 7.1%
56 Hilton Head Island 39,666 10.9%
57 Fort Mill 14,451 8.8%
58 Forest Acres 10,466 9.1%
59 Tega Cay 9,464 1.0%
60 Lexington 20,653 7.6%
61 Bluffton 17,164 6.8%
62 James Island 11,908 7.6%
63 Mount Pleasant 80,661 5.4%

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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