Change in the Poverty Rates of the Total Population by County: 2016 to 2017


Press Release | December 5, 2018

December 5, 2018 – The US Census Bureau has released the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) for 2017, and Arkansas’s percentage of residents living in poverty (16.3% or 487,800 individuals compared to the US average of 13.4%) is the eighth highest in the nation. Broken down by age group, the state also ranks eighth among young children aged 0-4 living in poverty (24.8% or 46,661) and eighth among children and young adults aged 5-17 and living in families (21.2% or 106,559).

Median Household Income estimates were included as part of the SAIPE data release and the state’s median household income is only $45,916 compared to $60.336 for the US as a whole. This gives Arkansas the third lowest median household income in the country, just ahead of Mississippi and West Virginia.

Only five of the 75 counties in Arkansas have a lower percentage of their residents living in poverty than the US as a whole (13.4%). Those counties are Saline (7.9%), Benton (9.1%), Lonoke (11.1%), Grant (12.2%), and Faulkner (13.4%). The five counties with the highest percentage of residents living in poverty are Phillips (39.8%), Lee (37.3%), St. Francis (33.7), Chicot (30.1%), and Desha (29.0%).

Benton County is the only county in Arkansas with a median household income ($64,728) that exceeds the US as a whole ($60,366). The five counties with the highest median household income estimates, ranging from $51,535 to $61,384, were Saline, Grant, Lonoke, Pulaski, and Faulkner. The five counties with the lowest, ranging from $30,599 to $34,856, were Chicot, St. Francis, Searcy, Lee, and Phillips.

The SAIPE data is also available for public school districts in Arkansas. The percentage of students living in poverty in 137 of the state’s 235 school districts equals or exceeds the US average for children and young adults age 5-17 and living in families. The five school districts with the highest percentages of their students living in poverty are Helena-West Helena School District (65.9%), Marvell School District (50.8%), Augusta School District (44.1%), Brinkley School District (43.0), and the Osceola School District (41.5%).

For more information on the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, please visit The Census datasets can be found at If you have questions or need assistance finding data please contact Pam Willrodt, Senior Demographer, at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at 501-569-8221

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