While the United States boasts the highest average salary in the world, the divide between the haves and the have nots continues to grow. While economic recovery has been slow, the rich states have stayed rich and the poor ones have stayed poor. In fact, data from the most recent Census shows that 45.3 million Americans, or 14.5 percent of the population lives below the poverty line of $23,834 a year for a family of four. The heaviest concentration of poverty is in the South. These are the 10 poorest states:
The median household income for Oklahomans is $44,312. That's 17.2 percent below the poverty line. The average income in Oklahoma is roughly $7,000 below the national median.
9. South Carolina
South Carolina's median household income averages out to $43,107, 18.3 percent below the poverty line. South Carolina incomes suffered particularly badly during the recession.
The state of Louisiana has a median household income of $42,944, putting it 19.9 percent below the poverty line. Roughly 20 percent of Louisianans live under the poverty line.
Tennessee's median household income is 17.9 percent below the poverty line at $42,764. Despite an economic recovery, the Volunteer state has been slow to see substantial improvements in its economy and salaries.
6. New Mexico
The median household income for New Mexico sits at $42,558. That's a significant 20.8 percent below the national poverty line. In 2012, every one in five residents of the state were living below the poverty line. About seven percent of households in New Mexico make an annual salary of less than $10,000 per year.
Kentucky's median income for each household is $41,724, putting the state 19.4 percent below the poverty line. Approximately 18 percent of residents in Kentucky are on food stamps.
Alabama's median income of $41.574 places it 19 percent below the poverty line. The good news for Alabama is its unemployment rate trends below the national average. However, 6.7 percent of families in Alabama still make less than $10,000 annually.
3. West Virginia
West Virginia's median income of $40.196 remained largely unchanged during the 2008-2012 recession. Despite this, the state still continually ranks as one of the poorest in the U.S. This is due to the fact that much of West Virginia's workforce is employed in seriously low paying jobs such as forestry and retail.
Arkansas's median income of $40,112, making it one of three states that are more than $10,000 per household lower than the national average. Twenty percent of people in Arkansas live below the poverty line.
Mississippi has a poverty rate of 24.1 percent, making it the poorest state in the U.S. Nearly 696,000 people in this state live below the poverty line. The average salary was $37,095 and one in five households is dependent on food stamps.