U.S. counties with the biggest bump in poverty rates

November 9, 2013

By Ireti Adesanya

According to the 2012 American Community Survey, nine of the 10 counties with the highest poverty rates in the U.S. are in Southern states. This is not surprising, since nine out of the 10 counties with the biggest increase in poverty rates are also in the South

Poverty rates were calculated using data from the American Community Survey that the U.S. Census Bureau conducted in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Our analysis focused on the difference between the 2010 rate and the 2012 rate. Here are the five counties with the biggest increases in poverty rates:

  1. Cascade County, Mont. — 8.1 percentage points
  2. Nash County, N.C. — 7.6 percentage points
  3. Oconee County, S.C. — 7.2 percentage points
  4. Columbia County, Fla. — 7.0 percentage points
  5. McKinley County, N.M. — 6.3 percentage points

McKinley County, N.M., has the highest poverty rate in the U.S. with 39 percent of residents living at or below the poverty level.

While the poverty rate for the South remained at 16.5 percent, the number of individuals from 2011 to 2012 in poverty increased by 700,000. The region is still in the midst of an ongoing recovery from the 2008 recession.

We have presented the data as a Web page and a Google Spreadsheet. You can check for your county.

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To see the Virginia counties with the biggest bump in poverty rates, check out this story on poverty in Richmond.