Poorest Cities In West Virginia For 2021


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

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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 West Virginia.

West Virginia brings to mind images of Charleston, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, West 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 West Virginia that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 27 places in West Virginia with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in West Virginia for 2021:

  1. Grafton
  2. Keyser
  3. Huntington
  4. Parkersburg
  5. Martinsburg
  6. Morgantown
  7. Oak Hill
  8. Bluefield
  9. Princeton
  10. Buckhannon

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 West Virginia? According to the facts, Grafton is the poorest place in West Virginia for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best places in West Virginia 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 West Virginia reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In West Virginia For 2021

1. Grafton

Grafton, WV

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,061
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,951 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.7% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.5% (8th highest)
More on Grafton:  Data | Photos

Grafton, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in West Virginia thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 5,061 people averages the 6th lowest median household income in West Virginia and the 8th 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. Keyser

Keyser, WV

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,050
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,448 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.5% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.3% (7th highest)
More on Keyser:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in West Virginia is Keyser.

The city ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and 4th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 5th highest in the Mountain State.

3. Huntington

Huntington, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 46,667
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $31,162 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.8% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.3% (2nd highest)
More on Huntington:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Huntington's median income ranks as the 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 32.34332487367675% 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 Mountain State.

4. Parkersburg

Parkersburg, WV

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 30,021
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 5)
Median Income: $35,778 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 25.2% (4th highest)
More on Parkersburg:  Data | Photos

Parkersburg ranks as the fourth poorest place in West Virginia.

The town ranks as having the 3rd lowest median household income and the 4th 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. Martinsburg

Martinsburg, WV

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 17,475
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $42,835 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.5% (3rd highest)
More on Martinsburg:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in West Virginia is Martinsburg.

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 3rd highest in West Virginia.

Still not the best news for Martinsburg.

6. Morgantown

Morgantown, WV

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 30,712
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Income: $42,966 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.7% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.7% (highest)
More on Morgantown:  Data | Photos

Morgantown ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Mountain State.

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

7. Oak Hill

Oak Hill, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,336
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $39,296 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.6% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.9% (13th highest)
More on Oak Hill:  Data | Photos

Oak Hill places as the seventh poorest city in West Virginia.

The city of over 8,336 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.

8. Bluefield

Bluefield, WV

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 9,889
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $36,793 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.0% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.7% (17th highest)
More on Bluefield:  Data | Photos

Bluefield ranks as the eighth poorest city in West Virginia.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 4th highest in the state.

9. Princeton

Princeton, WV

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,831
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Income: $42,025 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.8% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.6% (6th highest)
More on Princeton:  Data | Photos

Princeton couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in West Virginia; 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, Princeton ranks as having the 6th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in West Virginia.

10. Buckhannon

Buckhannon, WV

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,486
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $39,709 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 23.0% (10th highest)
More on Buckhannon:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in West Virginia is Buckhannon.

The city of 5,486 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Mountain State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In West Virginia 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 27 places with more than 5,000 people in West Virginia, we ranked each place from 1 to 27 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, Grafton, crowned the "Poorest Place In West Virginia For 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In West Virginia For 2021

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in West Virginia, we weren't sure what we'd encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in West 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 West Virginia, according to data:

    Richest: Bridgeport
    2nd Richest: Vienna
    3rd Richest: Hurricane

For more West Virginia reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In West Virginia

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Grafton 5,061 23.5%
2 Keyser 5,050 24.3%
3 Huntington 46,667 32.3%
4 Parkersburg 30,021 25.2%
5 Martinsburg 17,475 29.5%
6 Morgantown 30,712 32.7%
7 Oak Hill 8,336 20.9%
8 Bluefield 9,889 18.7%
9 Princeton 5,831 24.6%
10 Buckhannon 5,486 23.0%
11 Moundsville 8,486 20.7%
12 Clarksburg 15,553 24.8%
13 New Martinsville 5,162 21.1%
14 Elkins 7,072 19.5%
15 Beckley 16,452 18.9%
16 Fairmont 18,458 23.1%
17 Charleston 48,006 20.9%
18 Nitro 5,997 16.8%
19 St. Albans 10,270 17.7%
20 Wheeling 27,062 13.8%
21 Charles Town 5,943 12.6%
22 Weirton 18,670 13.3%
23 Dunbar 7,333 12.1%
24 South Charleston 12,475 14.0%
25 Hurricane 6,482 11.5%
26 Vienna 10,348 9.9%
27 Bridgeport 8,556 4.3%

How Is The Area In ?

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2 thoughts on “Poorest Cities In West Virginia For 2021

  1. I’m from War W Va and to me that also is one of the poorest towns in WVA. It was nothing but a coal mining town and when that left they had nothing. I’ve been back several times and it’s heartbreaking how these people have to live.

  2. Just went for the first time and Hwy 52 is life changing for me. I simply cannot believe that our country puts the lives of other countries over the lives within our own borders. These residents seemed to have lost all respect for their own towns and the children are born into an environment that is beyond poor. I have returned to FL with a renued interest in my own community. The President should take a tour for himself.

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