Virginia brings to mind images of Richmond, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.
However, like all states, Virginia 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 Virginia that could use a helping hand.
To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 62 places in Virginia with more than 5,000 people.
We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Old Dominion for 2019:
- Emporia (Photos)
- Petersburg (Photos)
- South Boston (Photos)
- Martinsville (Photos)
- Danville (Photos)
- Radford (Photos)
- Woodstock (Photos)
- Big Stone Gap (Photos)
- Richlands (Photos)
- Pulaski (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, Emporia is the poorest place in Virginia for 2019.
For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.
For more Virginia reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Virginia
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Virginia
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Virginia
How We Determined The Poorest Places In Virginia 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 62 places with more than 5,000 people in Virginia, we ranked each place from 1 to 62 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, Emporia, crowned the “Poorest Place In Virginia For 2019”.
You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 62 places.
Emporia, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Virginia thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 5,495 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Virginia 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.
The second poorest city in Virginia is Petersburg.
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 Old Dominion.
Placing as the third poorest city, South Boston’s median income ranks as the 8th 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 26.4% 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 Old Dominion.
Martinsville ranks as the fourth poorest place in Virginia.
The town ranks as having the 5th lowest median household income and the 11th 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.
The fifth poorest city in Virginia is Danville.
The city ranks as having the 9th 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 18th highest in Virginia.
Still not the best news for Danville.
Radford ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Old Dominion.
It ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and the 21st highest unemployment rate.
Woodstock places as the seventh poorest city in Virginia.
The city of over 5,169 ranks as having the 13th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Big Stone Gap ranks as the eighth poorest city in Virginia.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 17th highest in the state.
Richlands couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Virginia; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 2nd lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Richlands ranks as having the 16th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Virginia.
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Virginia is Pulaski.
The city of 8,860 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Old Dominion.
There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Virginia For 2019
Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Virginia, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Virginia.
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 Virginia, according to data:
2nd Richest: Falls Church
3rd Richest: Leesburg
For more Virginia reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Virginia
- 10 Safest Places In Virginia
- 10 Worst Cities In Virginia For 2017
Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Virginia
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