In 2012, the average household income was basically unchanged, according to reports from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is even with the fact that the U.S. had added over 2.2 million jobs during the year.
The fact is that the country is considered stagnant, which continues to hold it in a bad place. As the U.S. economy continues to struggle, the rich states are remaining rich and the poor states are remaining poor. The following list will highlight the 10 poorest states in the U.S. and contributing factors that put this in this ranking.
The median household income for people living in Oklahoma is $44,312, which places it at 17.2 percent below the national poverty line. The income in this state was a total of $7,000 below the national median for 2012. This state is also among the lowest in the nation health insurance, with a total of 18 percent of the state’s population not having coverage.
9. South Carolina
South Carolina has a median household income that averages to be $43,107, putting it at 18.3 percent below the nation’s poverty line. Much like a number of other states, the household income of South Carolina suffered by a significant amount during the recession period that lasted from 2008 to 2012. Even though the unemployment rate within the country decreased between 2011 and 2012, the state is still tied for seventh place with a 9.1 percent rate of unemployment.
The state of Louisiana currently holds a median household income of $42,944 and sits at 19.9 percent below the nation’s poverty line. Approximately 20 percent of the residents in Louisiana lived under the poverty line during 2012, only being higher than New Mexico and Mississippi. Additionally, during 2012 there were also over 18 percent of households that received food stamps
In Tennessee the median household income is $42,764, placing it at 17.9 percent below the poverty line. Between 2001 and 2012 the unemployment rate in Tennessee dropped from 9.3 percent to only 8.0 percent, which was one of the largest reductions in the entire U.S. Even with a reduction of the unemployment rate, there were many other measures that hindered the state from substantial economic improvement.
6. New Mexico
The median household income for New Mexico is currently $42,558, which places the state at 20.8 percent below the national poverty line. While the household income for New Mexico during 2012 was among the lowest, the biggest issue for the state was its poverty level. In 2012, every one in five residents were living below the poverty line. In fact, it was estimated that up to 7.6 percent of households in the state were considered at the extreme poverty level, making an annual salary less than $10,000 per year.
For Kentucky the median household income was situated at $41,724, which placed the state at 19.4 percent below the poverty line. By many measures, Kentucky is considered the most poverty stricken state in the entire U.S. Approximately 18 percent of the residents of the state received food stamps in 2012, which had increased from 17.4 percent from the previous year. A positive development in the state was the fact that the unemployment level fell from 9.5 percent down to 8.2 percent.
In Alabama, the median household income was $41,574, which placed the state with 19.0 percent of residents below the poverty line. The good news is that the unemployment rate for the state of Alabama is only 7.3 percent, which is far below the national average. Even with this substantial improvement for the state, there were still 6.7 percent of families making less than $10,000 annually.
3. West Virginia
West Virginia has a median income for households that is $40,196. Even with the decline of most states incomes during the recession in 2008, West Virginia remained mostly unchanged. Even with this fact, the median income for the state was still ranked third lowest in the entire United States. This is mainly attributed to the fact that a large amount of the population of West Virginia is employed in low paying jobs, such as agriculture, fishing, forestry and retail.
For 2012, Arkansas residents received a median annual income of $40,112 and only one of three states that had a median income that was more than $10,000 lower than the median for the U.S. The poverty rate for the state is almost 20 percent and among the highest in the nation. Even with these significant economic problems, the unemployment in the state was reduced from 7.9 percent to a total of 7.3 percent. Additionally, Arkansas is considered one of the states that have the most food insecurity, with over 19.8 percent of households having little access to a secure source of food.
For Mississippi, residents averaged $37,095 as an annual household income and approximately one in five households is dependent on the aid provided by food stamps. The poverty rate sits at 24.2 percent, which is the highest in the entire nation by three whole points. Prior to 2008 the median income for households in Mississippi was over $40,000, but the recession hurt this state significantly.
One of the defining themes in the list of the poorest states in the United States is the fact that they were all hit by the recession that began in 2008. While it affected some more than others, it has increased the poverty rate, without question, throughout the nation. Additionally, more households than ever are relying on food stamps, with many households not knowing where their next meal will come from.