For the third year in a row McCreary County has reached a number one ranking, but not in a positive way.
In a report published by 24/7 Wall Street this month, McCreary County was ranked not only the poorest county in Kentucky, but named the poorest county in the United States.
To compile the list the web-based financial news and information publication used U.S. Census data to review median household incomes and other data, as well as unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
McCreary County, with an average median household income of $19,328, which is less than half of the state’s average of $43,740. The average for the county actually dropped from when the list was first published three years ago, dropping about $1,5000. The state’s average actually increased by $700 over that same period.
The poverty rate of 41 percent also increased from 30.3 percent in 2015. Unemployment rates actually dropped from 13.5 percent to 5.8 percent, but that number does not necessarily reflect a decrease in unemployment, rather just the percentage of unemployed people actively searching for work.
Here is what the report had to say about McCreary County:
“McCreary is the poorest county in Kentucky and the poorest in the United States. The typical area household earns only $19,328 a year, less than half the median income statewide. Low incomes across McCreary are closely tied to the county’s educational attainment rate. Only 7% of county adults have a bachelor’s degree, far less than the 30% of adults nationwide. Many area jobs likely do not require higher education degrees, common requirements of the nation’s high paying jobs. The low incomes in the area are underscored by the county’s 41% poverty rate, which is more than double the 15.5% national poverty rate.”
Sumter County, Alabama ranked second in the list, with an average household median income of $19,501 per year. Sumter’s poverty rate and unemployment rate are slightly higher at 42.7 percent and 7.3 percent respectively.
While the report only focuses on a small data set to determine its rankings, there is no doubt that being ranked first on the list is a dubious honor for McCreary County.