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Northwest's poorest counties faces harder times than most

By LIZZY DUFFY 

Of Oregon Public Broadcasting

A new report finds that in each state there is at least one county where residents' average annual income is $7,000 lower than the rest of the state, but in the Pacific Northwest, the gap is even wider.

The 24/7 Wall St. report is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2009 to 2013.

The population of 24 of the nation's poorest counties was mostly rural, including Oregon's Malheur County, Washington's Whitman County and Madison County in Idaho.

In Malheur County, the median income was $35,578 — about $14,600 less than the state median income. The area's poverty rate hovers at 27 percent with an unemployment rate of nearly 9 percent. As OPB's Amanda Peacher reported, the reason for this is the area's lack of well-paying jobs. As a whole, Oregon's poverty rate is 15 percent, according to the latest Census report.

In eastern Washington, Whitman County residents made an average of $36,257 annually, which is just over $23,000 less than Washingtonians' average salary. The poverty rate is a staggering 32.6 percent, while unemployment remains at just over 6 percent.

Adults in Madison County in Central Idaho make an average of $32,059 a year, more than $14,700 less than the rest of the state's average income. The poverty rate is nearly 36 percent, and unemployment rate sits at 4.6 percent.

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