County With the Highest Poverty Rate in Every State

Among developed nations with similarly advanced economies, the United States stands out for having especially high levels of income inequality. Though the U.S. ranks among the wealthiest countries in the world, more than one in every 10 American citizens live below the poverty line – and the problem is getting worse. 

Between 2020 and 2021, the most recent years of available data, the number of Americans living below the poverty line climbed from 38.4 million to 41.4 million. The 7.9% year-over-year increase was a break from the nearly decade-long trend of poverty reduction. 

The poverty line in the United States now stands at an annual income of $14,580 for an individual, and $30,000 for a family of four – with slightly higher thresholds in Alaska and Hawaii. The consequences of living on such low incomes are far-reaching and potentially devastating. Individuals living in poverty often struggle to afford basic needs, such as food, shelter, and health care. Additionally, the stress caused by persistent poverty can negatively impact mental health, leading to higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

Based on five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, 12.6% of Americans nationwide live below the poverty line. In communities across the country, however, poverty is far more pervasive and deeply entrenched. 

Using 2021 ACS data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the county or county equivalent in each state with the highest poverty rate. 

Among the counties on this list, poverty rates range from 11.5% to over 50%. While several of the counties, primarily located in relatively high-income states, have lower poverty rates than the national average, every county on this list has a greater concentration of poverty than the state as a whole. 

Incomes, as well as financial security, tend to rise with educational attainment in the United States. In the vast majority of counties and county equivalents on this list, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher is below the statewide average. (Here is a look at the highest paying college majors.) 

Employment opportunities are also often somewhat limited in these counties. All but nine counties on this list have a higher unemployment rate than the state as a whole. (Here is a look at the industries laying off the most workers.)

Click here to see the county with the highest poverty rate in each state.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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