By Greg Bird
For the past five years McCreary County has reached a ranking of number one, but not in a positive way.
In a report published by 24/7 Wall Street this week McCreary County was ranked not only the poorest county in Kentucky, but could also be considered 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 $19,264, which is less than half of the state’s average of $46,535. The average for the county actually dropped from when the list was first published five years ago, dropping about $1,5000. The state’s average actually increased by $3,700 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 5.9 percent, but that number does not necessarily reflect a decrease in unemployment, rather just the percentage of unemployed people actively searching for work.
The average median household income for McCreary County was the lowest of all 50 counties outlined in the report. Scott County, Tennessee, McCreary’s southern neighbor, was also in the report as the poorest county in Tennessee.
McCreary County Judge Executive Jimmie “Bevo” Greene said he does not put much faith in those type of reports, but believes McCreary County is poised to make economic strides in the near future.
“I said in my campaign that I didn’t care what 24/7 Wall Street says about McCreary County,” Greene said. “You can’t put a price figure on the good people we have here. Is richness just based on median income? Or is there richness in other areas? I believe so.”
“It is my fervent belief that with all the opportunities that are coming to fruition in McCreary County that we will not be considered the poorest before too long.”
Here is what the report had to say about McCreary County:
“Kentucky is one of the five poorest states in the country, and McCreary County, forming part of the state’s southern border with Tennessee, is the poorest in the state. The county’s median annual household income is $18,972, well below both the comparable state and national median incomes. An astounding 42.5% of the county’s 17,850 residents live in poverty, which is not only the highest poverty rate in the state, but also nearly the highest of any county in the country.”