Like all states, West Virginia has certain places that are going on hard times. These West Virginia places have an above-average percentage of people living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.
Even as the economy continues to improve, it’s worthwhile to look at the places in each state struggling to make ends meet. So we set our sites on locating the poorest places in West Virginia.
To do so, we used Saturday Night Science to analyze the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 25 cities in West Virginia with more than 5,000 people.
What’s the poorest city in West Virginia? According to the facts, Huntington is the poorest place in West Virginia for 2023.
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.
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
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The 10 Poorest Cities In West Virginia For 2023
Huntington, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in West Virginia thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 46,923 people averages the lowest median household income in West Virginia 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.
The second poorest city in West Virginia is Morgantown.
The city ranks as having the highest incidence of poverty and 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 2nd highest in the Mountain State.
Placing as the third poorest city, Parkersburg’s median income ranks as the 4th 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 21.73707173538066% 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.
Beckley ranks as the fourth poorest place in West Virginia.
The town ranks as having the 7th 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.
The fifth poorest city in West Virginia is Clarksburg.
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 4th highest in West Virginia.
Still not the best news for Clarksburg.
Bluefield ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Mountain State.
It ranks as having the 8th highest incidence of poverty and the 8th highest unemployment rate.
Princeton places as the seventh poorest city in West Virginia.
The city of over 5,885 ranks as having the 9th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Moundsville ranks as the eighth poorest city in West Virginia.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 20th highest in the state.
Martinsburg 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, Martinsburg ranks as having the 3rd most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in West Virginia.
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in West Virginia is Elkins.
The city of 6,980 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Mountain State.
Methodology: How We Determined The Poorest Places In West Virginia for 2023
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 used Saturday Night Science to look at this set of criteria from the newly released 2017-2021 American Community Survey:
- Poverty Level
- Median Household Income
After we collected the data for all 25 places with more than 5,000 people in West Virginia, we ranked each place from 1 to 25 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, Huntington, crowned the “Poorest Place In West Virginia For 2023”.
This report has been updated for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the poorest places in West Virginia.
Summary: The Poorest Cities In West Virginia For 2023
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:
2nd Richest: Charles Town
3rd Richest: Hurricane
For more West Virginia reading, check out:
- Richest Cities In West Virginia
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- Most Expensive Places To Live In West Virginia
Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In West Virginia
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