The poorest counties in America


These 15 counties have the nation’s highest poverty rates, with the worst at or close to 50%, according to the most recent Census Bureau data.

MainStreet on MSN Money
South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation © Allen Russell/Alamy
Hard times getting harder

The number of Americans living in poverty has been on the rise since the Great Recession, as many households have seen their incomes drop and their debts mount in the past few years.

In total, more than 15% of the population lived in poverty in 2010, the highest percentage since 1993, according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau. To put that in perspective, that means more than 46 million people fell below the poverty line, defined as $22,314 for a family of four. If you factor in the income spent on expenses like medical costs, child care and mortgage payments, the number of Americans whose remaining income falls below the poverty line is closer to 50 million, or roughly 16% of the population.

As severe as this sounds, some regions in the U.S. are much worse off. In November, the census released abreakdown of the poverty rate in every county in the U.S. in 2010, which showed dozens of counties where more than a third of the population lives in poverty and a handful whose overall poverty rates were closer to 50%.

MainStreet combed through the data to find the 15 counties with the highest overall poverty rates in the country. Click ahead to find out what they are, ranked from best to worst, along with census data on the childhood poverty rate and the median household income in each.

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