These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In West Virginia For 2018


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

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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.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Mountain State for 2018:

  1. Keyser (Photos)
  2. Huntington (Photos)
  3. Martinsburg (Photos)
  4. Morgantown (Photos)
  5. Grafton (Photos)
  6. Parkersburg (Photos)
  7. Princeton (Photos)
  8. Moundsville (Photos)
  9. Buckhannon (Photos)
  10. Oak Hill (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, Keyser is the poorest place in West Virginia for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest 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.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In West 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 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, Keyser, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In West Virginia For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 27 places.

1. Keyser

Keyser, West Virginia

Population: 5,261
Median Income: $28,378
Unemployment Rate: 14.4%
Poverty Rate: 27.3%
More on Keyser: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 5,261 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in West 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. Huntington

Huntington, West Virginia

Population: 48,735
Median Income: $29,834
Unemployment Rate: 8.5%
Poverty Rate: 30.8%
More on Huntington: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in West Virginia is Huntington.

The city ranks as having the 2nd highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 9th highest in the Mountain State.

User comment that mentions Huntington: This list is laughable: Pea Ridge is indeed a geographic location near Barboursville, however most of it carries a Huntington zip code. Christophers Eats that was mentioned- well that’s in Barboursville. So the city of Huntington was on the ‘Worst’ list, but a road where most residents use a Huntington address is on the best list-! Not very scientific now are we–

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3. Martinsburg

Martinsburg, West Virginia

Source: Public domain

Population: 17,613
Median Income: $36,976
Unemployment Rate: 13.4%
Poverty Rate: 28.8%
More on Martinsburg: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Martinsburg’s median income ranks as the 9th 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 28.8% 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.

User comment that mentions Martinsburg: I couldn’t agree more with this artical. Good job. I have spent time in Hutington, Clarksburg, Keyser, Bluefield, Beckley and currently live in Martinsburg. Each of these towns are all holes.||||It’s amazing to see how offended people get when you say something bad about West Virginia. Its definitely miss placed pride in these locations. If you all don’t believe this list spend some time in Martinsburg.||||Just watch out for all the heroin needles on public sidewalks, parking lots and parks all around town. If you’re shopping don’t use cash after dark. You will be robbed when you leave the store. If you’re a woman don’t walk down the street alone, dudes will try to pick you up for sex and they don’t like to hear no. Homeless men hangout all over town, in the mall, at the library, in the park, the train station and just all over downtown. All they do is drink, do drugs and panhandle for cigs and booze money. You can’t even walk downtown without someone asking for money, a cig, and they get really pissed if you don’t give them anything, as if they are some how entitled to what you have.||||As for the ‘Almost Heaven’ crap everyone is always talking about, its only almost heaven here because leaving the house is putting your life on the line.

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4. Morgantown

Morgantown, West Virginia

Source: Public domain

Population: 30,364
Median Income: $35,502
Unemployment Rate: 8.6%
Poverty Rate: 35.3%
More on Morgantown: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Morgantown ranks as the fourth poorest place in West Virginia.

The town ranks as having the 8th lowest median household income and the 1st 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.

User comment that mentions Morgantown: Since when is Cheat Lake a city- last time I checked it was part of Morgantown.

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5. Grafton

Grafton, West Virginia

Population: 5,156
Median Income: $32,841
Unemployment Rate: 13.7%
Poverty Rate: 20.9%
More on Grafton: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in West Virginia is Grafton.

The city ranks as having the 4th 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 12th highest in West Virginia.

Still not the best news for Grafton.

User comment that mentions Grafton: Well I found this list because one of the towns with a very low crime rate in West Virginia happens to be on this list in fact it has the lowest crime rate in West Virginia and that is Grafton. I live near Edgefield South Carolina which is considered one of the safest towns in South Carolina and many people consider it one of the best places to live in the state. It has its crime and it’s not perfect but it’s fairly safe. How you going to tell me the town that’s safer than 97% of cities and towns in the country is bad- And since when is high population density a good thing High population densities are a very bad thing I hate crowds. When my sister lived in New Jersey I kept thinking I needed to get out of there faster when I visited. I’m very happy to live in a place with a fairly low population density I live in rural Edgefield County South Carolina at the moment. I like living here, because it isn’t crowded. For the comments that people made about religious folks you know you can be religious and believe in science it’s not a contradiction except people’s minds. Here in South Carolina I love the fact that I can talk about Jesus in public. Of course I’m Catholic so some of these well-meaning Southern Baptist try to save ‘me, it’s okay though their fellow Christians and I have no problem considering themselves that and many of them are very good Christians. And I’ve been to West Virginia many many times I think it is a beautiful state.’

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6. Parkersburg

Parkersburg, West Virginia

Source: Public domain

Population: 30,962
Median Income: $34,296
Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
Poverty Rate: 25.3%
More on Parkersburg: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

It ranks as having the 8th highest incidence of poverty and the 6th highest unemployment rate.

User comment that mentions Parkersburg: I live in Parkersburg. This is interesting because the heroin is over coming our city. It’s getting worse every year. I moved here from Youngstown Ohio so I could have a family and raise them in a safer place. But this is how it all starts. It’s a sad reality but unless we take our city back it’s going to end up just like my home town. Trust me you don’t want that.

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7. Princeton

Princeton, West Virginia

Population: 6,056
Median Income: $35,100
Unemployment Rate: 8.2%
Poverty Rate: 27.8%
More on Princeton: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Princeton places as the seventh poorest city in West Virginia.

The city of over 6,056 ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

User comment that mentions Princeton: Hell yeah! Im in Princeton. May not be the greatest place on Earth, but it’s home and I’m raising my family here!

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8. Moundsville

Moundsville, West Virginia

Population: 8,858
Median Income: $31,957
Unemployment Rate: 9.5%
Poverty Rate: 20.7%
More on Moundsville: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Moundsville ranks as the eighth poorest city in West Virginia.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 7th highest in the state.

User comment that mentions Moundsville: I live in moundsville, just south of wheeling. The drug addiction here is getting worse by the day, but definitely not crime ridden enough to make this list!!!

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9. Buckhannon

Buckhannon, West Virginia

Population: 5,645
Median Income: $33,182
Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
Poverty Rate: 26.6%
More on Buckhannon: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Buckhannon couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in West Virginia; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 5th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Buckhannon ranks as having the 7th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in West Virginia.

10. Oak Hill

Oak Hill, West Virginia

Population: 8,722
Median Income: $38,291
Unemployment Rate: 10.4%
Poverty Rate: 23.8%
More on Oak Hill: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 8,722 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Mountain State.

User comment that mentions Oak Hill: You may not like his article, however, he showed you how he got his results and the data speaks for itself. That being said, my only surprise is that SW West Virginia didn’t make this list. I was a Navy recruiter for 3 years from 2001-2004 in Mingo, Wayne, Lincoln, and Cabell counties. Originally I am from Oak Hill, and this list while true to the data doesn’t seem to show the real nasty areas. Huntington is going to show bad because of the College. Marshall is a breeding ground for socialism due to the faculty, but I would mind living near the park. You wouldn’t catch me home shopping in Wayne, Lincoln, Logan or Mingo counties. 10,000 Direct TV dishes and zero subscriptions.

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There You Have It – The Poorest Places In West Virginia For 2018

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: Hurricane
3rd Richest: Nitro

For more West Virginia reading , check out:

  • 10 Worst Places To Live In West Virginia
  • 10 Cheapest Places To Live In West Virginia
  • 10 Safest Places In West Virginia
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In West Virginia

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Keyser 27.3%
    2 Huntington 30.8%
    3 Martinsburg 28.8%
    4 Morgantown 35.3%
    5 Grafton 20.9%
    6 Parkersburg 25.3%
    7 Princeton 27.8%
    8 Moundsville 20.7%
    9 Buckhannon 26.6%
    10 Oak Hill 23.8%
    11 Clarksburg 21.1%
    12 Beckley 20.8%
    13 Fairmont 26.9%
    14 Bluefield 21.6%
    15 Elkins 18.3%
    16 New Martinsville 20.3%
    17 Wheeling 17.8%
    18 Charleston 20.0%
    19 Charles Town 10.4%
    20 St. Albans 16.0%
    21 Weirton 16.6%
    22 Dunbar 15.1%
    23 South Charleston 14.7%
    24 Vienna 10.1%
    25 Nitro 12.8%
    26 Hurricane 10.1%
    27 Bridgeport 4.2%

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