Top 10 states in USA with highest poverty rates

Often referred to as the most powerful nation of the world, United States of America was founded on July 4, 1776. United States. The name “America” goes back in history to the time when German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller created a world map in 1507. The cartographer, after the name of an Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who discovered the entire continent, named the land ‘America’. The USA contributes a huge part of land of North America. It, also, entirely lies in the Northern hemisphere. The United States of America is divided into 50 federal states, ranging from Alaska, which covers around 650 sq. miles of area to Rhode Island which covers only 1500 sq. miles of area.

With a long history of freedom and a massive abundance of natural resources United States is regarded as the most powerful nation of the world. Despite the planet having understood the hazards of terrorism and war, the US is believed to have the strongest security and military organ in the entire world.  The system of military has become stronger over the years with the advancement in security and the weaponries being highly enshrouded with technology. Despite being very strong as a nation, the United States of America is not equal in terms of economy among the 50 different states.

With reference to the economic development, employment opportunities, and the rate of poverty in the states, we here list the top 10 states with highest poverty rates in USA.

10 Oklahoma

[alert-note] Population below poverty line : 17.2% | Unemployment rate: 5.2% [/alert-note]

oklahoma- poor state in USADerived from Choctaw words okla(meaning red) and humma(meaning people), Oklahoma is a state has a relatively low rate of unemployment. With an unemployment rate of 5.2%, this state happens to have a low rate of unemployment but a high rate of poverty. 17.2 % of the people live below poverty line in Oklahoma. With a median household income of only $44,312 , Oklahoma is also terrible in terms of health insurances. Along with the national median household income being less than the national median household income by nearly $7,000 , 18% of the total population of the state is estimated to be out of health insurance coverage. The economy of Oklahoma, which covers an area of almost 70,000 sq. miles, is believed to be entirely dependent on energy industries. Despite being led to a rather sound economic situation following in rise of Oil, Oklahoma continues to be counted in the list of the poorest states in the States.

9. South Carolina

[alert-note] Population below poverty line:  18.3% | Unemployment rate: 9.1% [/alert-note]

south carolina- highest poverty rate in USASouth Carolina is a South-eastern state of the United States, which shares its borders with North Carolina, Georgia and Atlantic Ocean. As of 2012, every 1 out of 5 people in South Carolina sustain a life below poverty line. With a huge number of textile jobs disappearing in the states, many people(especially without a college degree) have fell into unemployment. As of the latest data collection in 2012, 9.1% of the people in South Carolina are living an unemployed life, and this can be well understood as the major reason of the presence of South Carolina in this list. Even more, South Carolina is also in a miserable situation in health facilities, with researches in 2012 listing the state in the 46th position in health services. The median household income of South Carolina is also poor with an average family earning $43,107 annually.

8 ­Louisiana

[alert-note] Population below poverty :     19.9% | Unemployment rate: 6.4% [/alert-note]

Louisiana- highest poverty rate in usaNamed after Louis XIV (King of France 1643-1715), Louisiana happens to be the only state in the United states with political subdivisions known as parishes, which are equivalent to countries. Located in the Southern region of the United States, Louisiana is the 3rd in terms of population below poverty line with New Mexico and Mississippi only lying worse to Louisiana. Despite the poverty rate remaining almost consistent in the last decade, the situation has not become worse either.  The median household income of the people in Louisiana is also very poor. Despite the unemployment rate being very high, the percentage of unemployed population in the state cannot be entitled poor

7. Tennessee

[alert-note] Population below poverty: 17.9% | Unemployment rate : 8.0% [/alert-note]

tennessee- highest poverty rate in USALocated in the south-eastern part of the North America, Tennessee shares its border with Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and the Mississippi river.  Tennessee, which covers 42,143 sq.miles of area of the United States, has a big problem of poverty, with almost 18% of the total population in the state living below poverty line. Plus, unemployment adds up as a big problem for the state. 8% of the population is unemployed. On the bright side, Tennessee has seen many contributions to the development and evolution of Music in America, with the state being considered the home of Rock and Roll, Blues and Country music.  Elvis Presley, W.C Handy ,Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Taylor Swift and Charlie Rich all having the birthplace Tennessee. Also, despite still having a huge unemployment rate, the drop in the rate of unemployment in Tennessee was the best in the entire nation, between 2011 and 2012, with a drop of unemployment rate from 9.3% to 8%. Also, only 13.8% of the population were short of health insurance coverage in the state.

6. New Mexico

[alert-note] Population below poverty line: 20.8% | Unemployment rate: 6.9% [/alert-note]

new mexico- highest poverty rate in USALocated at the western part of the United States among the Mountain States, New Mexico is a state, suffering  from a great rate of poverty. With a poverty rate of above 20.8%, the median household income of New Mexico is also a big problem with the value( $42,588) deviating from the national median household income by a value of above $7000. Nearly 8% of the household in New Mexico is estimated to be earning less than $10000 annually. Also, among the 50 states of United States, New Mexico has the highest number of Hispanics (46% of the population).

5. Kentucky

[alert-note] Population below poverty line: 19.4% | Unemployment rate: 8.2% [/alert-note]

Kentucky- state with high poverty rate in USALocated in the east south-central part of the United States, Kentucky is one of the only four states in the United States constituted as “Common Wealth”.  Well-known over the globe by the “Kentucky Fried Chicken(KFC)”, Kentucky happens to be badly stricken by poverty, with 1 out of every 4 children in the state living under poverty. The child poverty rate as of 2012, in Kentucky, is 26.5 %. Also, the total poverty in the state of Kentucky rose from 18.6 in the year 2009 to 19.4 in 2012. The median household income in the state of Kentucky happens to be very low as well, with an average family income in a year being $41,724. However, the rate of unemployment in the state decreased from 9.5% to 8.2%(2013 August), which still happens to be more than the national unemployment rate by 1.1%.

4. Alabama

[alert-note] Population under poverty: 19% | Unemployment rate: 7.3% [/alert-note]

Alabama- poorest state in USALocated in the south-eastern region of the United States, Alabama is a highly poverty-stricken state in the United States, with 19% of the total population living under poverty. With a median household income of only $41,574 and 6.7% of the families earning less than $10,000 annually, the financial state of the people in this state is considered to be one of the poorest in the entire nation. On the bright side, the unemployment rate of Alabama happens to be below the national average. Also, only 13.3% of the population were short of health insurance in 2012, which stands to be a statistic better than the national average.

3. West Virginia

[alert-note] Population below poverty: 17.8% | Unemployment rate: 7.3% [/alert-note]

west virginia- poorest state in USAWith a median household income of only $40,196, West Virginia, located in the Appalachian region of the United States, happens to be one of the least earning states in the nation. Despite more than 320,000 people this region living under poverty, only 14.4% of the state’s population. In 2011, one out of every five people in West Virginia lived in poverty, with 10% of the total population living in extreme poverty. Though the percentage of unemployed population is not so high, most people are engaged in low income-generating jobs.

2. Arkansas

[alert-note] Population below poverty: 19.8% | Unemployment rate: 7.3%[/alert-note]

Arkansas state- poorest state in USAWith the median household income being $10,000 less than the national median, Arkansas is one of the only 3 states with income less by such a massive magnitude. With 19.8% of the people in Arkansas lacking secure access to food, the United States Department of Agriculture mentions Arkansas as one of the worst states for food insecurity on the nation. Located in the Southern part of the United States, Arkansas has been financially devastated in the past few years because of drought.

1. Mississippi

[alert-note] Population below poverty: 24.2% | Unemployment rate: 9.2% [/alert-note]

mississipi state- highest poverty rate in USAMississippi, located in the Southern United States, is the poorest state in all of United States. 24.2% of the total population live under poverty in Mississippi. Severely affected by the problem of income inequality, Mississippi has a median household income of only $37,095, albeit some households earning above $200,000. This figure also happens to be almost half of the nation’s highest(Maryland). On the bright side, the GDP increase in the state happens to be the best in the country.


The United States Of America consists of fifty states, diverse in every aspect, with the financial aspect being one of them. Though the US, in the world happens to be a strong nation in almost every aspect, the 50 different states are not all perfect in all sectors. Some of the states stated above are under the poverty line with several problems regarding unemployment, natural disasters, horrific epidemics or more. However, even the poorest state on the nation will, too, not be looked as a poor place, by rest of the world.

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Ruchit is a 'A-level student' from Nepal currently enrolled in science stream. He loves writing for blogs.