These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Virginia For 2018

We used science and data to determine which places in Virginia are basically dead broke.

Join RoadSnacks

Swipe left for slideshow. Article continues below.
Advertisement. Article Continues Below.

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 2018:

  1. Emporia (Photos)
  2. Petersburg (Photos)
  3. Radford (Photos)
  4. Farmville (Photos)
  5. Martinsville (Photos)
  6. Danville (Photos)
  7. South Boston (Photos)
  8. Pulaski (Photos)
  9. Wytheville (Photos)
  10. Big Stone Gap (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 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Virginia or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

Advertisement. Article Continues Below.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Virginia For 2018

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 2012-2016 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 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 62 places.

Advertisement. Article Continues Below.

1. Emporia

Emporia, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,565
Median Income: $27,169
Unemployment Rate: 18.8%
Poverty Rate: 33.0%
Emporia, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Virginia thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 5,565 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Virginia and the 5th 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. Petersburg

Petersburg, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 31,997
Median Income: $32,169
Unemployment Rate: 13.7%
Poverty Rate: 29.4%
The second poorest city in Virginia is Petersburg.

The city ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty and 8th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 3rd highest in the Old Dominion.

3. Radford

Radford, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 17,186
Median Income: $31,457
Unemployment Rate: 9.2%
Poverty Rate: 39.3%
Placing as the third poorest city, Radford’s median income ranks as the 5th 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 39.3% 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.

4. Farmville

Farmville, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,562
Median Income: $35,084
Unemployment Rate: 10.2%
Poverty Rate: 35.0%
Farmville ranks as the fourth poorest place in Virginia.

The town ranks as having the 15th lowest median household income and the 3rd 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. Martinsville

Martinsville, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 13,551
Median Income: $31,719
Unemployment Rate: 10.0%
Poverty Rate: 24.1%
The fifth poorest city in Virginia is Martinsville.

The city ranks as having the 6th 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 17th highest in Virginia.

Still not the best news for Martinsville.

6. Danville

Danville, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 42,360
Median Income: $33,721
Unemployment Rate: 11.8%
Poverty Rate: 22.5%
Danville ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Old Dominion.

It ranks as having the 20th highest incidence of poverty and the 4th highest unemployment rate.

7. South Boston

South Boston, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,000
Median Income: $31,885
Unemployment Rate: 7.4%
Poverty Rate: 28.4%
South Boston places as the seventh poorest city in Virginia.

The city of over 8,000 ranks as having the 7th 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. Pulaski

Pulaski, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,918
Median Income: $37,228
Unemployment Rate: 11.3%
Poverty Rate: 22.7%
Pulaski ranks as the eighth poorest city in Virginia.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 5th highest in the state.

9. Wytheville

Wytheville, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 8,167
Median Income: $36,010
Unemployment Rate: 9.4%
Poverty Rate: 24.5%
Wytheville couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Virginia; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 18th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Wytheville ranks as having the 15th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Virginia.

10. Big Stone Gap

Big Stone Gap, Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,462
Median Income: $36,811
Unemployment Rate: 9.0%
Poverty Rate: 26.2%
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Virginia is Big Stone Gap.

The city of 5,462 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 2018

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:

Richest: Vienna
2nd Richest: Poquoson
3rd Richest: Purcellville

For more Virginia reading , check out:

  • These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Virginia
  • These Are The 10 Snobbiest Places In Virginia
  • These Are The 10 Safest Places In Virginia
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In Virginia

    City Rank Poverty Rate
    Emporia 1 33.0%
    Petersburg 2 29.4%
    Radford 3 39.3%
    Farmville 4 35.0%
    Martinsville 5 24.1%
    Danville 6 22.5%
    South Boston 7 28.4%
    Pulaski 8 22.7%
    Wytheville 9 24.5%
    Big Stone Gap 10 26.2%
    Marion 11 25.0%
    Buena Vista 12 27.6%
    Blacksburg 13 44.7%
    Richlands 14 22.3%
    Galax 15 25.0%
    Richmond 16 25.4%
    Franklin 17 16.7%
    Woodstock 18 25.4%
    Hopewell 19 20.5%
    Bristol 20 20.6%
    Norfolk 21 21.0%
    Harrisonburg 22 33.1%
    Portsmouth 23 18.2%
    Roanoke 24 22.2%
    Lynchburg 25 24.3%
    Williamsburg 26 22.8%
    Abingdon 27 19.8%
    Covington 28 21.4%
    Dumfries 29 19.3%
    Front Royal 30 16.5%
    Hampton 31 15.6%
    Vinton 32 12.0%
    Newport News 33 16.1%
    Lexington 34 18.4%
    Colonial Heights 35 12.9%
    Smithfield 36 14.3%
    Fredericksburg 37 16.6%
    Charlottesville 38 25.9%
    Waynesboro 39 16.0%
    Staunton 40 15.8%
    Culpeper 41 13.9%
    Winchester 42 14.6%
    Bluefield 43 10.7%
    Ashland 44 18.0%
    Suffolk 45 11.5%
    Strasburg 46 11.1%
    Chesapeake 47 9.5%
    Salem 48 9.4%
    Manassas 49 8.7%
    Virginia Beach 50 8.2%
    Warrenton 51 7.4%
    Christiansburg 52 8.7%
    Herndon 53 7.4%
    Alexandria 54 9.8%
    Fairfax 55 6.2%
    Manassas Park 56 8.7%
    Bridgewater 57 4.9%
    Falls Church 58 2.7%
    Leesburg 59 5.7%
    Purcellville 60 4.4%
    Poquoson 61 4.7%
    Vienna 62 3.7%

    Like RoadSnacks on Facebook:


    Facebook Discussion


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *