CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has among the bottom four median household income rates in the country, according to new release of U.S. Census data.

Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia were the states with the bottom household incomes in 2016, according to the American Community Survey data released Thursday.

Median household income is $43,385 in West Virginia. The national average for 2016 was $57,617.

In terms of dollars, West Virginia has improved, though. The median household income in 2015 was $42,019. In 2014, it was $41,059. Five years earlier, 2011, it was $38,482.

Median Household Income in the United States

West Virginia also has been moving in the wrong direction in terms of income inequality.

Income inequality increased in three states — Louisiana, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Census uses a standard economic measure of income inequality called the Gini index. A score of 0.0 is perfect equality in income distribution. A score of 1.0 would indicate that one household has all the income.

The states, naturally, are somewhere on that spectrum. The national average is .482.

West Virginia’s average is .4711, which is lower than the national average but higher than West Virginia has been in other recent years.

Last year West Virginia’s score was .4581. The year before that it was .4546.

More West Virginians live below the poverty level than the national average. West Virginia’s poverty rate, based on 2016 numbers, is 17.9 percent. The national average is 14 percent.

West Virginia was not worst by that measurement, though.

Four states — Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico, plus the District of Columbia — registered poverty levels of 18 percent or higher.

West Virginia’s poverty rate in 2015 was also 17.9 percent. In 2014, it was 18.3 percent. In 2013, it was 18.5 percent. In 2012, it was 17.8 percent. In 2011, 18.6 percent.

Back in 2006, it was 17.3 percent.
Poverty in the United States

West Virginia varied from the national average in several additional key indicators:

    • The value of homes in West Virginia is lower than in the rest of the country. West Virginia’s median home value is $117,900. Across the rest of the country, median home value is $205,000.
    • West Virginia averages a little older than the rest of the country. West Virginia’s median age is 42.3. The national average is 37.9.
    • Only 1.7 percent of West Virginians are foreign born. That’s significantly fewer than the 13.5 percent average for the rest of the country.
    • 5.3 percent of West Virginians are without health insurance. The national average is 8.6 percent.
    • The percentage of homes in West Virginia with broadband internet access is a little lower than the rest of the country. The average is 74.2 percent in West Virginia. It’s 81.4 percent across the rest of the country. The states with the least broadband access were generally in the south and Appalachia.

More sortable Census data is available here.

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