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Census Survey Finds KY Counties Among Nation's Poorest

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New data from the Census Bureau shows eastern Kentucky still struggling with poverty. The new report shows Kentucky is home to three of the nation’s five poorest counties. Jeff Young reports.

The Bureau’s latest American Community Survey looks at five-year economic trends among geographic areas with at least 10 thousand residents. The survey shows that of the five U.S. counties with the lowest median income, three are in Kentucky: Bell, Harlan and McCreary counties in southeastern Kentucky all have median household incomes below 25 thousand dollars. 

 
The Bureau’s survey also placed Middlesborough Kentucky among the small towns with the nation’s highest poverty rates. 
 
James Ziliak directs the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky. Ziliak says those communities have suffered from the coal industry’s recent downturn and a longer term lack of investment. 
 
Ziliak said, “Those communities grew up being too reliant on a single industry like coal, and there wasn’t enough diversification over time to withstand an economic shock like they’ve faced over the last several years.” 
 
Across the country, income improved in about 16 percent of counties while about 8 percent fell further into poverty.