Top 10 Poorest States In America 2023

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  • Post last modified:June 10, 2022
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Poorest States in the US – According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national poverty rate was 10.5% percent or 34 million Americans in 2020. These states and territories have the highest percentages of poverty in the country: Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, and South Carolina.

In 2023 that stat has changed, Top 10 Poorest States in the US are:
Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina.

The United States of America is a very popular nation not just in the Americas but in the whole world and a big-league country too in world affairs. This has earned the nation a high-profile reputation in the eyes of many especially those that are outside the American continent and those yet to visit the country, in addition, there are a lot of internet users surfing the net to know the US Poorest States. This has got us on our toes to come up with this article. but before that, here are the frequently asked questions.

How Did We Determine The Poorest States in the US?

Most people will take the poverty rate and the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household. Yes, this can be part, but we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the ‘poorest states’.

However, this is how we are able to stream list the poorest state ranking. So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2019 -2020 the American Community Survey for:

  1. Poverty level,
  2. Unemployment rate,
  3. Median Income

What is the richest state in the US?

New Jersey is said to be the richest state in America. The state has the highest Median Income, which is estimated to be  $114,691

What is the poorest state in the US?

Mississippi is ranked the poorest state in the USA because its the lowest income state in the United States of America. The median income is $45,081



Many people wonder if there are poor people living in the United States and are keen to know which state in the country is the poorest. To find out for yourself, we have outlined below the Poorest States in the USA for your perusal.

Here are the 10 poorest states with the lowest household income:

  1. Mississippi ($45,081)
  2. Arkansas ($43,813 )
  3. West Virginia ($44,061)
  4. Alabama ($46,472)
  5. Kentucky ($46,535 )
  6. New Mexico ($46,718)
  7. Louisiana ($46,710)
  8. South Carolina ($48,781)
  9. Georgia ($52,977)
  10. North Carolina ($50,320)

The Poorest States in us Ranked

There are the poorest states in the United States making our list based on the poverty rate, unemployment rate, and household median income. Below is a brief discussion about them. However, this is not to paint the awkwardness of the country but to provide answers to those surfing the net to know the states that are not faring well in the United States.

1. Mississippi

Population: 2,984,418
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $45,081 (First worst)
Poverty Level: 20.3% (First worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.5% (First worst)

The Mississippi occupies the first spot in the poorest state on the US list. Why is Mississippi the poorest state? In 2023 the state has the highest poverty rate of 20.5% which is the highest in the country. This implies that on average, more than one out of five or four-person households in the state earned less than $24,300. In addition, the unemployment rate of 8.8% that’s way over the average national unemployment rate of 3.8%.

An update in 2023 now shows that About 20.3% of people In Mississippi live in poverty, This means almost 1 in 4 families earns less than about $25,000 annually. That’s the same poverty rate as the African nation of Namibia. That’s poor. Factors that contribute to the very poor atmosphere here are a 7.47% unemployment rate, and up until a couple of years ago, 1 in 4 Mississippians wasn’t finishing high school. Hard to get ahead when you don’t study.

Mississippi has low educational attainment with just 21.1% of the state’s residents holding bachelor’s degrees. Also, the location of the state puts it at a great disadvantage to attract people and businesses becoming just a mere passerby region.

2. Arkansas

  • Poverty Rate: 18.1%
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.3%
  • Median Income: $43,813

Arkansas State finds itself among the Poorest States in the US occupying the ninth spot. The state is ranked 49th for household income by the Census Bureau Statistics. The rate of poverty in this state is high and it’s something the majority of the residents face every day. This is not far-fetched from the fact that the median household income in the state is $44,334 making it one of only three states in the United States where less than $45,000 a year is earned by over half of all households.

3. West Virginia

  • Poverty Rate: 17.8%
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
  • Median Income: $44,061

Occupying the fifth spot in the middle of the list is the state of West Virginia. The state is considered to be a hard-working state just like Louisiana; however, there are a lot of decently employed persons who are striving to better their lives thereby improving the economy of the state. Also, the state has a very low cost of living; people with decent salaries can cope as well.

4. Alabama

  • Poverty Rate: 18.0%
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.4%
  • Median Income: $46,472

Alabama households’ average in a year is about $46,400 which is higher at $4,500 in a year than that of Mississippi. The third Poorest Country in the US is said to be experiencing ample positive change. The government is on top gear to curb the poverty rate in the state. In 2018, approximately 800,000 Alabama residents live below the federal average poverty line. In fact, 15 of Alabama’s 67 counties have a poverty rate higher than 25 percent which continues to have an effect on every aspect of the state. Also, a move up to the third spot from the previous 6th spot in 2018 shows that there is a lot that needs to be done in the state.

5. Kentucky

  • Poverty Rate: 18.3%
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.8%
  • Median Income: $46,535

Entering the second half on our list of Poorest States in the US is Kentucky State. About 1 in 5 residents in the Bluegrass state live in poverty; also, the majority of the working class residents earn the 5th-lowest salaries ($46,535 a year) in the country. however, the state government is making efforts to turn the tides around but nonetheless, the majority of Kentuckians still face problems making ends meet.

6. New Mexico

  • Poverty Rate: 20.6%
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.7%
  • Median Income: $46,718

Going further on our list of Poorest States in the US New Mexico occupies the second spot on our list. The state poverty level is a little bit lesser than that of Mississippi at 20.6%. The high number of illegal immigrants residing in the state and a large number of people living on reservations including a working population that is leaving the city with their children to settle elsewhere are some of the factors why the poverty rate in the state is high. A major reason for moving out is the sluggish economy of the state.

7. Louisiana

  • Poverty Rate: 19.6%
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
  • Median Income: $46,710

Louisiana State is still battling with providing essential basic needs, buried in profound poverty, and slacking the country in terms of business and income. The poverty rate of Louisiana is fair compared to Mississippi. Despite the majority of the state’s residents being hardworking people, however, due to poor education structure and lack of advanced technological infrastructure, the country does not escape being enlisted coming in at the fourth spot of the Poorest States in the USA 2023.  There are efforts made by the government to curb the rate of poverty in the state but there is a long way to go.

8. South Carolina

  • Poverty Rate: 16.6%
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
  • Median Income: $48,781

To be honest, it’s a bit shocking to find South Carolina on our list; however, we can’t but rate it as the Seventh Poorest State in the US. There are arrays of towns along the highway where you come across several small that are struggling and trying to survive. In fact, the state is rated as one of the worst states to raise a family with criteria including the poverty rate in the state. Nonetheless, thanks to towns like Charleston, and a few other beach communities that are thriving and booming.

9. Georgia

  • Median Income: $52,977
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
  • Poverty Rate: 16.9%

Gradually closing the curtain on this discussion, we move over to Georgia State occupying the ninth spot on our list. Considering the rate of workers retrenched from work last year at about 7.5%, and 16.9% of the population lives in poverty, the state had to be enlisted. More so, with large chunks of adults in cities such as Atlanta, Macon, and Savannah, not really doing what they ought to, is having a lagging influence on the state’s economic growth.

10. North Carolina

  • Poverty Rate: 16.1%
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.2%
  • Median Income: $50,320

North Carolina closed the curtain on our discussion being the tenth poorest state in the country. Despite some cities including Charlotte, the Raleigh region, and the coast being all filled with wealthy people, on the other hand, the majority of the towns and cities are poor and very much underemployed. From the NC Policy Watch report last year, it was revealed that over 7% of North Carolina households, approximately around 725,000 residents are living in a deep poverty state; this shows that they earn 50% or less of the federal poverty level.

What Are The Poorest States In America?

Poorest States In the US: (Rated by Population/Median income)

RankStatePopulationMedian Income
2West Virginia1,817,305$46,711
3New Mexico2,092,454$49,754
7South Carolina5,020,806$53,199
9North Carolina10,264,876$54,602
24New York19,572,319$68,486
28Rhode Island1,057,231$67,167
32South Dakota870,638$58,275
40New Jersey8,878,503$82,545
45North Dakota756,717$64,894
50New Hampshire1,348,124$76,768

Here are the 10 poorest states in the USA:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Arkansas
  3. West Virginia
  4. Alabama
  5. Kentucky
  6. New Mexico
  7. Louisiana
  8. South Carolina
  9. Georgia
  10. North Carolina

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I believe you now have a clue about What State Has the Highest Poverty Rate in the US. States like Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina have no state minimum wage, however, the unemployed population is largely covered by state welfare programs. we’d be willing to bet if America’s poorest states changed their policies, their situations would follow suit.

The major attribute to the rate of poverty in most of these states includes relatively low levels of education and lower incomes in all three states. So now, you know that it is not all a bed of roses in the United States and there are some states still struggling to stand firmly, and also it is now glaring that the majority of the poorest states in the country are located in the Southern part meaning it is the poorest region in the country.

Just a piece of advice; If you’re poor in America, there are heartwarming rags to riches stories all over the place that you can use as inspiration. Slumdog Millionaire, Pretty Woman, heck even Annie. Get them, digest them, and act!