Poorest Cities In South Carolina For 2021


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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in South Carolina.

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 2021:

  1. Abbeville
  2. Lancaster
  3. Bennettsville
  4. Clinton
  5. Cheraw
  6. Chester
  7. Orangeburg
  8. Darlington
  9. Union
  10. Hartsville

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 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best 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 2021

1. Abbeville

Abbeville, SC

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,045
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $24,809 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.4% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.8% (3rd 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 5,045 people averages the lowest median household income in South Carolina and the 3rd 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. Lancaster

Lancaster, SC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 9,143
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 4)
Median Income: $30,122 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.0% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.3% (2nd highest)
More on Lancaster:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in South Carolina is Lancaster.

The city ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and 6th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 2nd highest in the Palmetto State.

3. Bennettsville

Bennettsville, SC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 8,062
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $30,440 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.7% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.4% (6th highest)
More on Bennettsville:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Bennettsville's median income ranks as the 7th 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 30.406626506024093% 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.

4. Clinton

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 8,443
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 10)
Median Income: $28,174 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.8% (5th highest)
More on Clinton:  Data

Clinton ranks as the fourth poorest place in South Carolina.

The town ranks as having the 4th 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.

5. Cheraw

Cheraw, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

1
/10

Population: 5,657
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Median Income: $33,200 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 21.1% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.6% (9th highest)
More on Cheraw:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in South Carolina is Cheraw.

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 9th highest in South Carolina.

Still not the best news for Cheraw.

6. Chester

Chester, SC

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,408
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Income: $26,330 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.4% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.6% (13th highest)
More on Chester:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 13th highest incidence of poverty and the 10th highest unemployment rate.

7. Orangeburg

Orangeburg, SC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 12,861
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Median Income: $31,455 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.0% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.2% (14th highest)
More on Orangeburg:  Data | Photos

Orangeburg places as the seventh poorest city in South Carolina.

The city of over 12,861 ranks as having the 14th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Darlington

Darlington, SC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 6,043
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Median Income: $27,835 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.7% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.0% (22nd highest)
More on Darlington:  Data | Photos

Darlington ranks as the eighth poorest city in South Carolina.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 8th highest in the state.

9. Union

Union, SC

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,769
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 6)
Median Income: $33,218 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (16th highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.9% (4th highest)
More on Union:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 14th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Union ranks as having the 4th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in South Carolina.

10. Hartsville

Hartsville, SC

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,616
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $35,487 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.1% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.8% (11th highest)
More on Hartsville:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 7,616 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 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 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 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In South Carolina For 2021

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

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 5,045 31.8%
2 Lancaster 9,143 35.3%
3 Bennettsville 8,062 30.4%
4 Clinton 8,443 30.8%
5 Cheraw 5,657 29.6%
6 Chester 5,408 27.6%
7 Orangeburg 12,861 27.2%
8 Darlington 6,043 22.0%
9 Union 7,769 30.9%
10 Hartsville 7,616 28.8%
11 Greenwood 23,269 30.3%
12 Marion 6,466 24.9%
13 Newberry 10,245 25.5%
14 Central 5,270 28.3%
15 Gaffney 12,582 25.7%
16 Walterboro 5,477 21.0%
17 Georgetown 8,866 22.8%
18 Lake City 6,617 29.9%
19 Laurens 8,867 26.2%
20 Dillon 6,394 29.3%
21 Spartanburg 37,424 23.3%
22 Conway 23,838 19.7%
23 Sumter 39,800 19.2%
24 Anderson 27,289 22.4%
25 York 8,144 19.6%
26 Myrtle Beach 32,700 21.6%
27 Clemson 16,463 38.7%
28 Columbia 133,273 21.8%
29 Clover 6,135 18.7%
30 Batesburg-Leesville 5,647 19.4%
31 North Charleston 111,501 21.0%
32 Seneca 8,368 16.5%
33 Florence 38,487 19.1%
34 Rock Hill 73,334 15.6%
35 Fountain Inn 9,301 12.2%
36 Port Royal 12,770 10.6%
37 West Columbia 17,641 15.6%
38 Camden 7,100 15.3%
39 Cayce 13,600 19.4%
40 Beaufort 13,404 21.0%
41 North Myrtle Beach 16,200 9.7%
42 Aiken 30,671 12.6%
43 Irmo 12,215 9.1%
44 North Augusta 22,908 11.5%
45 Summerville 53,037 11.7%
46 Travelers Rest 5,152 19.2%
47 Greenville 67,737 13.4%
48 Easley 20,923 11.2%
49 Hollywood 5,176 13.2%
50 Goose Creek 41,978 10.6%
51 Charleston 135,257 13.2%
52 Mauldin 25,217 6.2%
53 Moncks Corner 10,743 12.4%
54 Hardeeville 6,064 12.4%
55 Greer 30,854 9.2%
56 Forest Acres 10,412 9.2%
57 Hanahan 24,353 11.1%
58 Hilton Head Island 40,007 9.7%
59 Lexington 21,334 9.1%
60 Tega Cay 10,412 0.3%
61 Simpsonville 22,234 5.4%
62 Fort Mill 17,692 6.4%
63 James Island 12,076 5.4%
64 Mount Pleasant 86,982 4.6%
65 Bluffton 20,799 3.9%

How Is The Area In ?

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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