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A state’s income level largely determines its quality of life, which, in turn, determines its livability index. If you are thinking of moving to America from another country or are considering moving to a different state from the one you currently live in, you may want to search for ‘what are the poorest states in America’ and avoid those. Here, we bring you a list of 10 of the USA’s most impoverished states as per the latest US Census Bureau.
1. New Mexico
New Mexico is one of those states that don’t come to mind when you think of the poorest states in America. While New Mexico isn’t poor in the traditional sense (it has a poverty rate of 18.2%, which isn’t that low), it does suffer in terms of its child poverty rate. New Mexico has around 26.3% of its children living below the poverty line, which makes it the second-highest in the country in terms of this metric.
The poverty rate in Mississippi is significantly higher than the national average of 10.5%. The state also has a higher than national average unemployment rate with a lower than national average labor participation rate. The state lags behind in multiple avenues, including job growth, education rate, and job market diversity and growth. In fact, one out of every five residents in Mississippi lives below the poverty line, indicating abysmal economic conditions.
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Louisiana has only recently climbed the ranks as one of the poorest states in the US. The state is a prominent shrimp and commercial fish producing region. However, the commercial fishing industry took a major hit because of the pandemic, bringing Louisiana closer to the top of the list of America’s poorest states. A bright side to all this is that the impact is temporary, and hopefully, the state’s unemployment levels will likely go down once the lockdown ends.
Kentucky has been struggling with joblessness and high poverty rates even before the pandemic, and COVID19 has only added to the residents’ struggles. The two main job providing sectors are the automated factories and the cattle industry. The factories shut down as a result of the pandemic. The demand for beef fell as well, and so did its prices, nearly destroying Kentucky’s beef cattle and thoroughbred horses industry, another staple contributor to the state’s economy.
Arkansas is another agricultural state that was almost completely ruined as a result of the pandemic. A substantial portion of the state’s economy relies on livestock production, the demand for which fell because of COVID19, as restaurants and hotels closed not only across the country but across the globe.
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A series of hurricanes also destroyed a substantial amount of crops, further taking the state’s economy to ruin and plunging it well below the poverty line.
6. West Virginia
West Virginia is among the few states you can always expect to find among the search responses for “what are the poorest states in America.” The state has one of the lowest labor participation rates, the lowest higher education rate, and some of the country’s lowest median household incomes. The labor force in West Virginia lacks skills. Thus, the state’s unemployment rate has been on the rise ever since the decline in the manufacturing and coal mining industry.
Alabama’s economy had seen slow and steady improvement in the years before the pandemic. However, it has also been one of the hardest hits states because of the COVID19 lockdown, and whether or not it recovers from it or not is yet to be seen.
The major job-providing sectors in the state include farming, education, food, travel, manufacturing, and automotive businesses, all of which are expected to fall further.
Oklahoma, too, is a major beef, wheat, and hog producing state. Other primary employment-providing sectors include the oil and natural gas extraction sector, which was already declining even before the pandemic. The lockdown and rise in unemployment level post-COVID breakout plunged a substantial amount of Oklahoma’s population below the poverty line.
Tennessee, too, is here on the list of the top 10 poorest states in the United States because of the pandemic. Some of the major employment providing sectors, including transportation equipment, rubber and plastic supply, entertainment, recreation, and hospitality sectors, took a significant hit amid the lockdown, resulting in the loss of around 50% of jobs in the state.
10. South Carolina.
South Carolina has a pretty stable economy despite being dependent on some of the hardest-hit sectors. Substantial federal spending on stabilizing the economy kept the state afloat for quite a while. But with the exhaustion of resources and a fresh spike in COVID19 cases, the strain on South Carolina grew, resultantly increasing the unemployment rate and plunging an increasing number of residents below the poverty line.
What are the poorest states in America doesn’t have a set answer, and this list, more than any other, is subject to change, as many states on this list are here because of the impact of COVID19. The post-pandemic list may look completely different as some states recover and pull their economy out of poverty, so keep checking this space for updates.