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The Poorest County in Each State

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From farm fields to urban centers

Where do you find poverty in America? To find out, 24/7 Wall St. took a look at the poorest county in each state based on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

In each state, there was at least one county with a median annual household income more than $7,000 lower than the state’s median income. Virginia and Maryland had counties with median incomes over $35,000 lower than that of the state.

The population of 24 of these poorest counties was predominantly rural. Eight had 100% rural populations. However, in some states, the poorest counties were largely urban. For example, the poorest counties in New York and Pennsylvania had 100% urban populations as of 2010.

In many of these counties, residents struggled with low educational attainment and limited job opportunities. In the five years through 2013, the percentage of adults who had attained at least a bachelor’s degree was below the comparable national figure of 28.8% in 45 of the 50 counties. There were exceptions. In Washington and Wyoming’s poorest counties, nearly half of the adult residents had attained at least a bachelor’s degree.

While some of the counties had decent job markets, the unemployment rate of 36 of the poorest counties was above the national rate of 7.4% in 2013. Notably, nearly one in five workers in Apache County, Ariz., was unemployed.

To identify the poorest counties in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimated median annual household incomes from 2009 through 2013 from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). Five-year estimated educational attainment rates also came from the Census Bureau. Annual unemployment rates are for 2013 and came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Figures on the percentage of populations that are classified as urban or rural are from the Census Bureau’s 2010 decennial census.

Click through this slideshow to see the poorest counties in each state, from the highest overall poverty level to the lowest.

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© Danita Delimont/Getty Images; Carlo Allegri / Reuters; James Jordan Photography/Getty Images

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