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Lowest-earning county in every state

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David Herrera // Flickr

Lowest-earning county in every state

By some counts, Americans are doing well. The unemployment rate was at a respectable 3.5% by the end of 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median household income in the United States is $61,937—up 2.7% from 2016. Average hourly earnings for workers on nonfarm payrolls climbed to $28.32 in December 2019. In 2018, the official poverty rate dropped from 2007 figures for the first time in more than a decade, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. And in the first week of 2020, the Dow Jones hit a record high, potentially setting American traders up for another great year.

The country’s growing wealth hasn’t trickled down to every American family, though. The United States has staggering wealth inequality, with the gap between the country’s wealthiest and poorest people more closely resembling that of China and Russia than other advanced democracies. More than two-thirds of the country’s wealth is owned by the top 10% of income earners. Meanwhile, nearly one in five households across the United States earn less than $25,000 a year (19.6%), while 6.3% have an annual income that falls below $10,000.

Where you live can make a big impact on your financial situation. To find out where Americans are struggling the most across the country, Stacker compiled a list of the lowest-earning county in every state, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (released in December 2019). The list only considered counties with a minimum of 1,000 households and ranked them by their median household incomes. The counties are listed in alphabetical order based on their state’s name.

Read on to learn which county in every state has the lowest household income and see how your area compares with the rest.

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Jimmy Emerson // Flickr

Alabama: Greene County

- Median household income: $21,804 (64.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,955
- Households making less than $10,000: 22.7% (260.3% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 54.5% (178.1% higher than national average)

Most workers in Greene County are employed in manufacturing, a sector that has seen a significant decline in employees since the mid-1990s. Around 30% of the county’s residents live in poverty. It’s a rural county and many people who live there don’t have internet access.

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CTLiotta // Wikimedia Commons

Alaska: Kusilvak Census Area

- Median household income: $35,539 (42.6% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,692
- Households making less than $10,000: 10.8% (71.4% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 33.3% (69.9% higher than national average)

There are just 79 employer establishments in Alaska’s Kusilvak Census Area. Most workers from this area are teachers’ assistantsone of the lowest-paid occupations in the country.

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John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

Arizona: Apache County

- Median household income: $32,963 (46.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 20,395
- Households making less than $10,000: 21% (233.3% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 41.7% (112.8% higher than national average)

Northern Arizona, where Apache County is located, is experiencing a major decline in coal-related industries, with many plants downsizing or shutting down completely in recent years. Losing high-wage jobs in the coal industry is predicted to impact other areas, including tourism, retail and hospitality, which could make it even harder for Apache County residents to boost their income.

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Mike Norton // Flickr

Arkansas: Lee County

- Median household income: $28,367 (54.2% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 3,352
- Households making less than $10,000: 19.9% (215.9% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 46.7% (138.3% higher than national average)

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting is the largest sector by the number of employees in Lee County. The industry has some of the lowest-paid occupations in the country, including farmworkers who deal with farm, ranch, and aquacultural animals. Those employees earn just $12.77 an hour on average.

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Gary Robertson // Flickr

California: Trinity County

- Median household income: $38,497 (37.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 5,796
- Households making less than $10,000: 10% (58.7% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 33.7% (71.9% higher than national average)

Trinity County has fewer than 5,000 workers. The majority of them are employed in public administration, health care, and social assistance, or the accommodation and food services industries. Those who work in utilities earn six-figure salaries, but there are less than 90 Trinity County residents who are employed in that field.

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David Herrera // Flickr

Colorado: Costilla County

- Median household income: $30,593 (50.6% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,687
- Households making less than $10,000: 13.9% (120.6% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 43.5% (121.9% higher than national average)

Nearly one in three Costilla County residents live in poverty. While the highest-paying jobs are in the information industry, most people in this area work in retail, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, or health care and social assistance.

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JJBers // Flickr

Connecticut: Windham County

- Median household income: $64,774 (4.6% higher than national average)
- Total number of households: 44,449
- Households making less than $10,000: 5.8% (7.9% lower than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 18.6% (5.1% lower than national average)

Even the lowest-income county in Connecticut has a median household income higher than the national average. Manufacturing is the third-largest industry in Windham County right now. Manufacturing in the region is on the upswing, boosting employment by 2.1% in 2018. The county may see even more jobs open up in aerospace and submarine manufacturing in the future.

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Craig Fildes // Flickr

Delaware: Kent County

- Median household income: $58,775 (5.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 64,545
- Households making less than $10,000: 5.5% (12.7% lower than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 18.9% (3.6% lower than national average)

The city of Dover is home to about 70% of the jobs in Kent County, according to Delaware State News. The county is making an effort to boost the economy through tourism and will host this year’s Mid-Atlantic Tourism Relations Alliance Media Marketplace gathering.

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John Bennett // Flickr

Florida: Hamilton County

- Median household income: $34,583 (44.2% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 4,485
- Households making less than $10,000: 14.3% (127% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 37.7% (92.3% higher than national average)

Most people in Hamilton County, Fla., work in education, health care, or manufacturing. However, this area of the Sunshine State is attempting to capitalize on its rich agricultural assets with a grant to Cultiva Farms USA. The company has committed to bringing almost three dozen jobs to the county.

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Lindasj22 // Shutterstock

Georgia: Clay County

- Median household income: $25,000 (59.6% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,202
- Households making less than $10,000: 20% (217.5% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 50% (155.1% higher than national average)

Solar innovation may help stimulate the economy in Clay County over the next decade; U.S. solar company Silicon Ranch recently made an $89 million investment in two solar projects in Bluffton . The development will inject some much-needed revenue into the county’s schools and development authority.

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dirkr // Shutterstock

Hawaii: Hawaii County

- Median household income: $59,297 (4.3% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 68,412
- Households making less than $10,000: 8.4% (33.3% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 22.7% (15.8% higher than national average)

Tourism drives the economy in Hawaii County, with most residents working in accommodation and food services or retail. It spent 2019 recovering from the Kilauea volcano eruption. The natural disaster caused $796 million in economic damage to Hawaii County, hitting the tourism sector the hardest.

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chenjack // Flickr

Idaho: Madison County

- Median household income: $36,031 (41.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 10,625
- Households making less than $10,000: 14.2% (125.4% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 36.6% (86.7% higher than national average)

With an educated workforce and relatively low costs, Rexburg, Madison County’s largest city, is becoming an attractive place for companies. Many out-of-state businesses have opened plants and offices in the area, creating new jobs and boosting the economy.

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J. Stephen Conn // Flickr

Illinois: Pulaski County

- Median household income: $33,799 (45.4% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,173
- Households making less than $10,000: 10.4% (65.1% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 37.8% (92.9% higher than national average)

When the Tamms Supermax Prison closed in 2013, Southern Illinois (which includes Pulaski County) lost around 325 jobs and saw businesses that served prison staff shut down. The state has recently created a new task force to explore ways to repurpose the former correctional center and create new employment opportunities in the area.

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OZinOH // Flickr

Indiana: Blackford County

- Median household income: $42,217 (31.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 5,225
- Households making less than $10,000: 6.3% (0% lower than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 22.5% (14.8% higher than national average)

Blackford County is a manufacturing hub, with around 1,675 people working in that sector. The largest employer in the area is 3M, with a Hartford City plant that produces everything from adhesives and flexible electronics to films and specialty materials.

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Jimmy Emerson // Flickr

Iowa: Appanoose County

- Median household income: $41,111 (33.6% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 5,416
- Households making less than $10,000: 9.4% (49.2% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 30.3% (54.6% higher than national average)

Employment in Appanoose County has fallen in recent years. Manufacturing employs 21.5% of the local workforce. Other common industries include retail trade, health care, and social assistance, and educational services.

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25or6to4 // Wikimedia Commons

Kansas: Woodson County

- Median household income: $34,621 (44.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,476
- Households making less than $10,000: 9.9% (57.1% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 37.6% (91.8% higher than national average)

The median household income in Woodson County has remained relatively stagnant in recent years, despite increasing in neighboring counties. Most workers in this county work in health care and social assistance or agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting.

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Jimmy Emerson // Flickr

Kentucky: Wolfe County

- Median household income: $22,458 (63.7% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,817
- Households making less than $10,000: 19.5% (209.5% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 52.3% (166.8% higher than national average)

Food preparation and serving-related occupations are not only the most common jobs for Wolfe County residents — they’re also one of the lowest-paid types of employment in the area. Residents with this job earn a median salary of $10,287.

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NatalieMaynor // Flickr

Louisiana: East Carroll Parish

- Median household income: $21,161 (65.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,153
- Households making less than $10,000: 26.8% (325.4% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 55% (180.6% higher than national average)

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting is one of the largest industries in East Carroll Parish, employing 168 people. The Louisiana governor’s office recently announced it would invest $50 million in infrastructure projects in the region, including a bridge in East Carroll Parish, in an effort to bolster the agriculture industry.

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ems18 // Flickr

Maine: Piscataquis County

- Median household income: $39,470 (36.3% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 7,357
- Households making less than $10,000: 7.9% (25.4% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 31.2% (59.2% higher than national average)

Workers in Piscataquis County primarily work in the industries of health care and social assistance, as well as manufacturing. The county has just one employer with a workforce of more than 500 people.

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Chesapeake Bay Program // Flickr

Maryland: Somerset County

- Median household income: $42,165 (31.9% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 8,383
- Households making less than $10,000: 13.0% (106.3% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 29.6% (51% higher than national average)

Located around 100 miles from the nearest major cities, Somerset County is primarily home to business and industrial centers. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Sysco Eastern Maryland are among the biggest employers in the county.

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Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

Massachusetts: Hampden County

- Median household income: $53,403 (13.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 179,043
- Households making less than $10,000: 7.5% (19% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 24.8% (26.5% higher than national average)

One in five workers in Hampden County are employed in the health care and social assistance industry. Employees in the utilities industry typically reap the highest salaries, while those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector earn a median salary of $15,841.

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Tony Faiola // Flickr

Michigan: Lake County

- Median household income: $34,631 (44.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 4,517
- Households making less than $10,000: 12.8% (103.2% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 35.9% (83.2% higher than national average)

Manufacturing and retail trade are the largest industries by number of employees in Michigan’s Lake County. Residents who find work in the mining, quarrying, oil, and gas extraction industry typically earn $88,750 a year. However, just four Lake County workers were employed in that industry as of 2017.

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J. Stephen Conn // Flickr

Minnesota: Mahnomen County

- Median household income: $44,537 (28.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,938
- Households making less than $10,000: 6.9% (9.5% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 27.5% (40.3% higher than national average)

Set within the White Earth Indian Reservation, Mahnomen County has a high proportion of workers in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry. The area’s major employers include Shooting Star Casino, White Earth Tribe, and Mahnomen Hospital.

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GilbertThompson // Wikimedia Commons

Mississippi: Jefferson County

- Median household income: $20,188 (67.4% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,530
- Households making less than $10,000: 17.1% (171.4% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 57.2% (191.8% higher than national average)

Nearly half of the residents in Jefferson County live below the poverty line. Employment in the struggling county fell by 10% from 2016 to 2017.

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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

Missouri: Shannon County

- Median household income: $32,180 (48.0% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 3,173
- Households making less than $10,000: 10.8% (71.4% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 41.4% (111.2% higher than national average)

The manufacturing industry employs the highest number of workers in Shannon County. The county saw employment drop by over 10% from 2016 to 2017.

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Tom Robertson // Shutterstock

Montana: Glacier County

- Median household income: $31,029 (49.9% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 4,178
- Households making less than $10,000: 14.1% (123.8% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 43.1% (119.9% higher than national average)

Glacier County’s median household income is significantly lower than in the nearby counties of Pondera and Toole. Most workers are employed in the educational services or accommodation and food services industries.

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Jasperdo // Flickr

Nebraska: Brown County

- Median household income: $41,550 (32.9% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,434
- Households making less than $10,000: 5.8% (7.9% lower than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 29.1% (48.5% higher than national average)

Ask a resident of Brown County what they do for a living, and they’ll probably say they work in management or sales. Most workers in the area are employed in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry.

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Ken Lund // Flickr

Nevada: Mineral County

- Median household income: $41,163 (33.5% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,938
- Households making less than $10,000: 10.5% (66.7% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 34.9% (78.1% higher than national average)

Mineral County has a workforce of fewer than 1,700 employees. The county has an atypically high number of workers in the occupation of fire fighting and prevention, and other protective service workers (including supervisors).

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jorisvo // Shutterstock

New Hampshire: Coos County

- Median household income: $45,696 (26.2% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 13,720
- Households making less than $10,000: 5.2% (17.5% lower than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 24.8% (26.5% higher than national average)

Coos County’s largest industry by number of employees is health care and social assistance. There’s an effort among local business leaders and politicians to strengthen ties between Coos County and Quebec to boost the economy.

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Doug Kerr // Flickr

New Jersey: Cumberland County

- Median household income: $52,593 (15.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 50,608
- Households making less than $10,000: 8.4% (33.3% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 25.1% (28.1% higher than national average)

Most Cumberland County workers are employed by the health care and social assistance industry. The county has a slow rate of job growth: Cumberland County employment increased less than 1% from 2016 to 2017 and is projected to see just 18.3% growth over the next decade (compared with the national average of 33.5%).

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Granger Meador // Flickr

New Mexico: Guadalupe County

- Median household income: $24,085 (61.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,404
- Households making less than $10,000: 9% (42.9% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 52.1% (165.8% higher than national average)

The median household income in Guadalupe County is not just low — it’s falling. It has dropped nearly $2,000 since 2017. Most employed residents work in the industry of public administration.

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TierneyMJ // Shutterstock

New York: Bronx County

- Median household income: $38,085 (38.5% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 499,728
- Households making less than $10,000: 13.5% (114.3% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 36.6% (86.7% higher than national average)

With a continuous influx of immigrants, Bronx County is New York State’s fastest-growing county. It has gained a significant amount of new jobs in the last decade. These opportunities aren’t usually lucrative, though. In 2017, the average salary for a job in the private sector in the Bronx was $48,700, around 2.5 times less than positions in neighboring Manhattan.

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Lesley Looper // Flickr

North Carolina: Bladen County

- Median household income: $32,378 (47.7% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 13,968
- Households making less than $10,000: 12.6% (100% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 38.6% (96.9% higher than national average)

Around 7,500 of the jobs in Bladen County — or about 44% — come either directly or indirectly from the pork industry. The largest pork processing plant in the world can be found in this North Carolina county.

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Jimmy Emerson // Flickr

North Dakota: Rolette County

- Median household income: $39,884 (35.6% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 4,638
- Households making less than $10,000: 16.5% (161.9% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 33.8% (72.4% higher than national average)

Workers in Rolette County tend to be employed in educational services or the health care and social assistance industry. Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and Sky Dancer Casino are the county’s largest employers.

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J. Stephen Conn // Flickr

Ohio: Adams County

- Median household income: $36,894 (40.4% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 10,835
- Households making less than $10,000: 13.4% (112.7% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 36.9% (88.3% higher than national average)

Residents of Adams County are reckoning with the loss of two power plants in 2018. The closures of those plants resulted in the loss of more than 1,100 total jobs in the region. Furthermore, local power plant workers are predicted to see their wages drop as they move into other positions.

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Jimmy Emerson, DVM // Flickr

Oklahoma: Choctaw County

- Median household income: $32,129 (48.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 5,991
- Households making less than $10,000: 13.6% (115.9% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 41% (109.2% higher than national average)

The median household income in Choctaw County has hovered not far above $30,000 since 2013. The highest-paid jobs in the county are architecture and engineering occupations, while the lowest-paid jobs are in food preparation and serving-related occupations.

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Jesse Stephens // Shutterstock

Oregon: Lake County

- Median household income: $36,627 (40.9% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 3,494
- Households making less than $10,000: 8.8% (39.7% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 33.2% (69.4% higher than national average)

Lake County is banking on renewable energy to dig itself out of years of economic stagnation. The county has seen new projects from biofuel companies and solar energy developers in recent years. Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting is the largest industry by number of employees right now.

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Nicholas A. Tonelli // Flickr

Pennsylvania: Forest County

- Median household income: $38,383 (38% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,631
- Households making less than $10,000: 5.2% (17.5% lower than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 27.8% (41.8% higher than national average)

Forest County lost more than a quarter of its employment from 2016 to 2017, bringing the total number of employed people to 751. Most of them work in public administration or health care and social assistance.

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Mihai_Andritoiu // Shutterstock

Rhode Island: Providence County

- Median household income: $55,233 (10.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 238,171
- Households making less than $10,000: 8.3% (31.7% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 24.6% (25.5% higher than national average)

Most employment in Providence County is in the industries of health care and social assistance, as well as retail and manufacturing. Law enforcement workers are the highest-paid occupation in the county.

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Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina: Allendale County

- Median household income: $24,560 (60.3% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 3,350
- Households making less than $10,000: 18.5% (193.7% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 51% (160.2% higher than national average)

Household incomes in Allendale County have been mostly on the decline since 2014. Experts warn that the area could lose about 15% in income by the end of the century due to the effects of global warming.

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J. Stephen Conn // Flickr

South Dakota: Todd County

- Median household income: $24,257 (60.8% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,703
- Households making less than $10,000: 29.2% (363.5% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 50.8% (159.2% higher than national average)

More than three-quarters of Todd County residents are American Indian. Some residents say that decades of U.S. government practices that impact Native Americans have contributed to economic adversities in Todd County.

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Jimmy Emerson // Flickr

Tennessee: Hancock County

- Median household income: $28,990 (53.2% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,809
- Households making less than $10,000: 13.1% (107.9% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 42.4% (116.3% higher than national average)

Hancock County’s largest industries by the number of employees are manufacturing and health care and social assistance. Most workers in the area are in production occupations.

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Travel_with_me // Shutterstock

Texas: Presidio County

- Median household income: $27,061 (56.3% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,627
- Households making less than $10,000: 14.8% (134.9% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 44.2% (125.5% higher than national average)

The impoverished Texas county of Presidio has embraced new economic activities in recent years, including a natural gas pipeline and chili roasting facility. These efforts haven’t paid off for the average resident, though. The median household income has dropped by more than $6,000 since 2016.

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Sidvics // Wikimedia Commons

Utah: San Juan County

- Median household income: $44,680 (27.9% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 3,992
- Households making less than $10,000: 13.5% (114.3% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 29% (48% higher than national average)

Livestock, mining, tourism, and agriculture drive the economy in San Juan County. Many people from this area work in the health care and social assistance sector, as well as in educational services.

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cmh2315fl // Flickr

Vermont: Essex County

- Median household income: $41,045 (33.7% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 2,756
- Households making less than $10,000: 6.6% (4.8% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 30.3% (54.6% higher than national average)

Wholesale trade is the highest-paying industry by a long shot in Essex County. Workers in that field earn a median salary of more than $150,000. However, most workers in the area are employed by the health care and social assistance industry, which pays significantly less.

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J654567 // Wikimedia Commons

Virginia: Norton City

- Median household income: $28,071 (54.7% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 1,819
- Households making less than $10,000: 18.7% (196.8% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 45.6% (132.7% higher than national average)

Norton is losing jobs. Its employment rate dropped by 1.1% in the last year, and it’s estimated to gain just 12.4% more jobs over the next decade.

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Mark Pouley // Flickr

Washington: Ferry County

- Median household income: $41,924 (32.3% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 3,097
- Households making less than $10,000: 11.7% (85.7% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 32.8% (67.3% higher than national average)

Ferry County lost its largest employer, a gold mine, in 2018. With its closure came the loss of high-wage jobs and stagnating median household incomes.

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cmh2315fl // Flickr

West Virginia: McDowell County

- Median household income: $26,547 (57.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 7,711
- Households making less than $10,000: 15.9% (152.4% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 47.1% (140.3% higher than national average)

McDowell County has struggled for decades. Its residents were among the first to receive food stamps when the program was created in the 1960s and the declining coal industry is continuing to bring the local economy down with it.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin: Iron County

- Median household income: $40,801 (34.1% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 3,003
- Households making less than $10,000: 7.2% (14.3% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 29.1% (48.5% higher than national average)

Job growth in Iron County did not keep up with the national rate from 2014 to 2019. The local government, nursing care facilities, and restaurants were the county’s top three industries of 2019.

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Jeffrey Beall // Flickr

Wyoming: Albany County

- Median household income: $46,865 (24.3% lower than national average)
- Total number of households: 16,027
- Households making less than $10,000: 9.7% (54% higher than national average)
- Households making less than $25,000: 28% (42.9% higher than national average)

Home to the University of Wyoming and Wyotech-Laramie, Albany County’s largest industry is educational services. Food preparation and serving-related occupations are both the fifth most common job for Albany County residents and the lowest-paid positions in the area.

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