These Are The 10 Poorest States In America For 2018

We looked at the most recent census data to determine the states with the highest level of poverty and poor economies.

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Poorest States In America Map

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Why must we insist on always looking at the negative? When we saw there was a really high number of searches for ‘poorest states,’ we thought – well, we have to give people what they want. So here you go.

We get it – knowing the extremes helps put things into perspective; if we know where the poorest and richest places are, we can understand our lives easier. It’s a psychological thing.

The general assumption for ranking the poorest states in America is not too hard to figure out; you have to know how much money people earn. We took that factor into account, and ended up using a couple other metrics, too.

The richest state in America? That would be New Hampshire.

For exactly how we calculated these rankings, read on. Or, if you’re interested in reading something a little less depressing, check out:

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How We Determined The Poorest States in the US

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 states’. So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2012-2016 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty level
  • Unemployment rate
  • Median income

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.

We ranked each state from 1 to 50 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.

We then averaged all the rankings for a state into a ‘Poor Score’ with the state having the lowest overall Poor Score crowned the ‘Poorest State In The US For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for every state.

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1. Mississippi


Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $40,528
Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
Poverty Rate: 22.3%

We’re probably going to see a lot of southern states on this list. And we start with the absolute poorest: Mississippi.

While the Magnolia State has some of the nicest, most generous people in the country, the fact is, it’s a very poor place. It ranks at the top of every single category we measured.

2. New Mexico

New Mexico

Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $45,674
Unemployment Rate: 8.5%
Poverty Rate: 20.9%

New Mexico is a pretty poor place too (though not nearly as poor as Mississippi).

A large number of people living on reservations and a high number of illegal immigrants skews the numbers a bit for the Land of Enchantment.

3. Alabama


Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $44,758
Unemployment Rate: 8.3%
Poverty Rate: 18.4%

Alabama households average about 45,000 a year – which is actually $5,000 more a year than their neighbors over in Mississippi earn. But that’s the 4th-lowest in the country.

4. Louisiana


Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $45,652
Unemployment Rate: 7.7%
Poverty Rate: 19.7%

If you’ve ever driven through Louisiana, you wouldn’t be too surprised it’s in the top 5. People here work very, very hard, but due to the lack of thriving new technology, and a poor education system, it remains one of the poorest states in the nation.

5. South Carolina

South Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $46,898
Unemployment Rate: 8.4%
Poverty Rate: 17.2%

You might be surprised to see South Carolina on here. Outside of Charleston, and a few other thriving beach communities, there are long stretches of highway where you come to small town after small town that are trying to survive during a time when tobacco and cotton are not necessarily booming anymore.

6. Kentucky


Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $44,811
Unemployment Rate: 7.6%
Poverty Rate: 18.8%

Kentucky residents earn the 5th-lowest salaries ($44,800 a year), and nearly 1 in 5 residents lives in poverty.

On the bright side, ‘only’ 7.6% of the population in Kentucky is out of work, which is 19th-worst in America. That’s a good sign.

7. Georgia


Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $51,037
Unemployment Rate: 8.5%
Poverty Rate: 17.8%

The Peach State is the pits when you consider 8.5% of the population was out of work last year, and 18% of the population lives in poverty. A lot of that has to do with the large segment of Atlanta, Macon and Savannah, which simply refuse to be responsible adults.

8. North Carolina

North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $48,256
Unemployment Rate: 8.3%
Poverty Rate: 16.8%

North Carolina is an interesting state. Charlotte, the Raleigh region, and the coast are all filled with wealthy, successful people. But the rest of the population is pretty poor and way underemployed.

You could drive three hours and see completely different pockets of success in the Tar Heel State.

9. West Virginia

West Virginia

Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $42,644
Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
Poverty Rate: 17.7%

You might have thought you’d see West Virginia a lot higher up on this list.

West Virginians earn the 3rd-lowest incomes in America ($42,600), but they’re decently employed, proving that folks in the Mountain State are hard workers. Plus, the cost of living is so low here, that even decent salaries go a long way.

10. Arkansas


Source: Wikipedia

Median Income: $42,336
Unemployment Rate: 6.9%
Poverty Rate: 18.8%

If you wanted to live a life of luxury, Arkansas certainly wouldn’t be a place to go.

Not that folks here aren’t super friendly. There’s just a lot more to be desired in their bank accounts, that’s all.

There You Have It — The Poorest States in the US

After measuring every wealth factor that makes sense, it’s clear – the south is definitely the poorest place you could live in our country.

While it’s bad news for the states we mentioned, we have to acknowledge the richest states to live in America. If you’re in New Hampshire, Minnesota or Hawaii, you’re doing pretty well.

Although, we think Hawaii is overrated for wealth – it costs so damn much to live there, a great salary doesn’t go a long way.

Here’s a quick look at the richest of the list:

  1. New Hampshire
  2. Minnesota
  3. Hawaii

For more reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest States In America For 2018

State Rank Population Median Income
Mississippi 1 2,989,192 $40,528
New Mexico 2 2,082,669 $45,674
Alabama 3 4,841,164 $44,758
Louisiana 4 4,645,670 $45,652
South Carolina 5 4,834,605 $46,898
Kentucky 6 4,411,989 $44,811
Georgia 7 10,099,320 $51,037
North Carolina 8 9,940,828 $48,256
West Virginia 9 1,846,092 $42,644
Arkansas 10 2,968,472 $42,336
Florida 11 19,934,451 $48,900
Michigan 12 9,909,600 $50,803
Tennessee 13 6,548,009 $46,574
Arizona 14 6,728,577 $51,340
Nevada 15 2,839,172 $53,094
Oregon 16 3,982,267 $53,270
Oklahoma 17 3,875,589 $48,038
Ohio 18 11,586,941 $50,674
California 19 38,654,206 $63,783
Indiana 20 6,589,578 $50,433
Missouri 21 6,059,651 $49,593
Idaho 22 1,635,483 $49,174
Illinois 23 12,851,684 $59,196
Texas 24 26,956,435 $54,727
Montana 25 1,023,391 $48,380
New York 26 19,697,457 $60,741
Rhode Island 27 1,054,491 $58,387
Maine 28 1,329,923 $50,826
Pennsylvania 29 12,783,977 $54,895
Kansas 30 2,898,292 $53,571
South Dakota 31 851,058 $52,078
Delaware 32 934,695 $61,017
Wisconsin 33 5,754,798 $54,610
Washington 34 7,073,146 $62,848
Connecticut 35 3,588,570 $71,755
New Jersey 36 8,915,456 $73,702
Nebraska 37 1,881,259 $54,384
Iowa 38 3,106,589 $54,570
Colorado 39 5,359,295 $62,520
Alaska 40 736,855 $74,444
Vermont 41 626,249 $56,104
Massachusetts 42 6,742,143 $70,954
Wyoming 43 583,029 $59,143
Utah 44 2,948,427 $62,518
Virginia 45 8,310,301 $66,149
North Dakota 46 736,162 $59,114
Maryland 47 5,959,902 $76,067
Hawaii 48 1,413,673 $71,977
Minnesota 49 5,450,868 $63,217
New Hampshire 50 1,327,503 $68,485

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4 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Poorest States In America For 2018

  1. Why were objective comments made about residents of all the states except for Georgia? There’s plenty of negative things to be said about people, rich and poor, of other states too.

  2. Your unemployment numbers are way off…by an outrageous margin. Some of your median income numbers don’t jive with official numbers either. Where did you get your data?

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