This is the Poorest County in the U.S.: Telfair County, Georgia

Saturday, December 06, 2014
(graphic: Southwest Georgia)

New figures released from the federal government show a small county in Georgia has the distinction of being the poorest such jurisdiction in the United States.


Telfair County ranks at the bottom among all counties in terms of per-capita personal income. The average income last year for Telfair residents was $17,536 after falling 1.2% from 2012. That’s more than $6,000 below the federal poverty line ($23,283 for a family of four), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Telfair has only 16,000 residents, 61% of whom are white. African Americans make up 36% of the population. Two of Telfair’s cities, McRae and Helena, recently merged because Helena’s wastewater system needed major repairs.


Which county is the richest in the United States? New York County, better known as the island of Manhattan, with an average income of $121,632.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Local Area Personal Income, 2013 (Bureau of Economic Analysis) (pdf)

Telfair County (New Georgia Encyclopedia)

Telfair County, Georgia (U.S. Census Bureau)

First Mayor Elected In Newly Merged McRae-Helena (by Kenley Hargett, WMGT)

See all 13 comments


Ron 5 years ago
I'm from Telfair county GA. The only people who say it's a bad place are Blacks who act oppressed and are looking for a hand out. Telfair County was a great place to grow up.
Billy 6 years ago
I too grew up in Telfair County. Please don't be fooled by the previous post. Telfair is a city run by mainly old white very conservative people. A lot of whom, don't like change nor minorities. They do everything to stop new businesses from coming to town. If you get a good job in Telfair you have to know someone that already works there. There was a lot of racism and prejudices happening throughout the school system in that county when I was growing up. Its a very oppressed town unless you are from a family that part of the oppressors.
Charles Washington Jr 9 years ago
I was born and raised in Telfair County. I left over 30 years ago. However,I love going back home to visit. Until this article I didn't know we were the poorest county in the United States. I didn't feel we were the poorest county while being born and raised there years ago. When I travel there to visit I don't feel its the poorest either. I believe our county has great potential. I'm happy about my early years of education there. It was a safe and friendly environment for education. There are plenty of very successful people that were born and raised there. They may not live there now but their start was there.
Charles Wilcox 9 years ago
I was raised in this town in the early 80's when business was booming and we didn't have a lot but we didn't know we were poor. We all had so much fun and there was always something to do. I have been away in the U.S. Navy for the past twenty years and loved seeing the world but I always remembered Mcrae. It's so sad to go back and visit and see the place that you called home in such bad conditions. I think if Harnavasqua leaves the whole town will dry up. Good Job ASSHOLES in leadership positions.
Laurie 9 years ago
Telfair county is typical of most counties in our area. What is not typical is that Mcrae Helena is a crossroad city. Abundant traffic rolls through our small town every day. In the past for whatever reasons the politicians/leaders have not been able or have not been willing to take the steps necessary to take advantage of our strategic position in the state for economic progress. In November 2014 with the election of a new mayor and with merging of Mcrae Helena January 2015 times are changing. Steps are being taken even now to ensure that we take advantage of every possible opportunity and even make opportunities of our own to grow and prosper and put Telfair on the map.
Gary Cadwell 9 years ago
I pastored Macedonia Baptist Church for seven years, & Telfair County was a great place to live. My son graduated from Telfair County High School. Praying that good times are ahead for this County.
warren rowe 9 years ago
New business brings people to the county. If new business is here new people might run for elected offices. Then they might just win and start to uncover something, ask the wrong questions,etc.The powers that be can't afford this to happen, hence no new business. Being originally from Ben Hill Co. (the sesspool) of the state Ga. I love Telfair Co.
butler 9 years ago
Lived and worked in Telfair County for 50 years. Disagree with other comments. Very nice, friendly people. Sure drugs are there but they are everywhere. Thankfully many people are saved and churches abound. I never saw any leaders driving away business and was on Chamber of Commerce board for several years. In fact new industry was actively sought. Sure Telfair needs improvement but let's not give up hope and count them out just yet. Study the history of the county for last 50 to 75 years ago. You may see some reasons they are poor.
Norma Bloodworth 9 years ago
I grew up in Lumber City. I remember how busy the roads use to be when Amercord was up and running and the lumber mill was also running watching all the cars and trucks going by my house. People would go down town to the bank, the post office, drug store,and the hardware store all within walk distance of each other. Most of all the adults were polite and well manner, but there again Lumber City had a lot of older adults and senior citizens. What is adults now use to be kids that probably went to school there the ones that wanted to make something out of thereselves had to leave to do it. It is really sad to see Lumber city to turn into a ghost town and basically run down. It is depressing to see what Telfair County has turn out to look like and for Lumber City to turn out to be. I do still have some fond memories of growing up there and that I will always remember it like that.
Melinda Walker 9 years ago
Walter you are correct. They refuse to accept or participate in doing anything to help themselves. Those who are in politics are either not qualified or are squashed by those who have been in office far too long. The powers that be for many many years have refused to allow businesses in and as a result nearby Dublin has benefitted and grown by inviting new businesses. Telfair County wants to stay the same... Status quo...and they are slowly deteriorating. Houses and properties are left to simply sit and fall apart when their owner dies. New people from the outside are not received well. Change of any kind is not looked on with any enthusiasm. So sad because there are some who I think would like to see change but they are the minority. There is a dark cloud e nshrouding Telfair County.

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