North Carolina is one of the poorest states in the US, with more than 1.4 million residents living in poverty. Louisiana is the second poorest state in the country, with 17.4% of its population at or below the poverty line. South Carolina also has a relatively high proportion of households living in extreme poverty, but its ranking improved due to increased state revenues. North Carolina households are more likely to use SNAP benefits to help pay for food than those in most other states.
The state has received its highest rating in the economic outlook ranking for lack of inheritance or inheritance taxes, a low minimum wage, status as a right-to-work state, and a cut in personal income tax in recent years. North Carolina, like many other southern states, has below-average upper and secondary academic achievement rates, which can contribute to the state's relatively low incomes. The Rich States, Poor States report uses 15 policy variables to classify states' economic prospects, including tax burden, legal system, minimum wage, size of government compared to the population, the costs of workers' compensation, and the situation of the right to work. About 14.7 percent of North Carolinians live below the poverty line, one of the highest poverty rates in the country.
Each of the 10 poorest states in the country is home to a lower than normal proportion of adults with at least a bachelor's degree. Not surprisingly, these states also tend to rank lowest on quality of life metrics and are often ranked as the worst states to live in.