We here at Harris Real Estate Coaching do a lot of talking and writing about the best counties/cities/areas in which to live but not much writing and talking about the worst counties/ cities/areas in which to live. What with joblessness in the US being at its lowest point since the 1960’s, the Dow Jones hitting its all-time high last year and America now being home to twice the number of billionaires as any other country in the world, it’s difficult to dial into the thousands of people experiencing widespread poverty and failing businesses.

24/7WallStreet, however, did just that. This outfit created a Poverty Index in order to evaluate which counties in the country were the worst in which to live based upon population shifts, poverty rates, and the average life expectancy in each county. Data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation provided life expectancy statistics; all other data was generated from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Nearly every county listed by 24/7WallStreet’s “worst county to live in” index was located in either Appalachia’s coal country, Southern counties near the Mississippi River or counties within Native American reservations.

Here are 24/7WallStreet’s ten worst US counties in which to live:

  1. Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota
    1. Almost entirely within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
    2. 0% population change in last 5 years
    3. 0% unemployment
    4. 8 years life expectancy – nearly 12 years less than national average
    5. 8% poverty rate – similar to that of Iraq and North Korea
  2. Todd County, South Dakota
    1. Includes much of Rosebud Indian Reservation
    2. +3.1% population shift in last 5 years
    3. 9% unemployment rate
    4. 5 years life expectancy
    5. 1% poverty rate – more than triple the national average of 15.1%
  3. Holmes County, Mississippi
    1. Located in Mississippi Delta where much of the region’s agriculture-based economy suffered
    2. -4.9% population shift in last 5 years
    3. 5% unemployment rate
    4. 0 years life expectancy
    5. 0% poverty rate – 6th highest in country
  4. McDowell County, West Virginia
    1. Considered the most hard hit by opioid crisis in the state
    2. -8.9% population shift in last 5 years
    3. 1% unemployment rate
    4. 3 years life expectancy
    5. 6% poverty rate
  5. McCreary County, Kentucky
    1. Located in Daniel Boone National forest and heavily dependent upon coal industry
    2. -2.5% population shift in last 5 years
    3. 6% unemployment rate
    4. 9 years life expectancy
    5. 0% poverty rate with half of population earning less than $20,000/year
  6. Clay County, Kentucky
    1. Economy heavily dependent upon coal, corn, tobacco and timber
    2. -4.4% population shift in last 5 years
    3. 5% unemployment rate
    4. 8 years life expectancy
    5. 5% poverty rate
  7. Breathhill County, Kentucky
    1. -4.6% population shift in last 5 years
    2. 6% unemployment rate
    3. 2 years life expectancy
    4. 0% poverty rate
  8. Leslie County, Kentucky
    1. People working must commute outside county due to lack of jobs inside county
    2. -5.9% population shift in last 5 years
    3. 9% unemployment rate
    4. 2 years life expectancy
    5. 5% poverty rate
  9. Bell County, Kentucky
    1. Southeast corner of state bordering VA and TN
    2. -4.0% population shift in last 5 years
    3. 3% unemployment rate
    4. 7 years life expectancy
    5. 0% poverty rate
  10. Harlan County, Kentucky
    1. Hard hit by opioid deals and vanishing coal jobs
    2. -5.7% population shift in last 5 years
    3. 4% unemployment rate
    4. 5 years life expectancy
    5. 6% poverty rate