A nationwide research survey has listed Clay County as the third most disadvantaged county in the state and the 54thmost in the nation.

The research is from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions initiative and Princeton University’s Center for Research on Child Wellbeing.  The project ranks cities and counties across the country based on data measuring three interconnected types of disadvantage:

-Income, including rates of poverty and deep poverty;

-Health, including life expectancy and low birth weight; and

-Social mobility, using intra-generational mobility estimates.

The index reveals deep disadvantages in clustered regions such as Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, the Cotton Belt and the Tribal Nation Lands.

Kentucky had eight counties in the top 100 most disadvantaged with McCreary Co. (No. 20), Bell County (No. 36), Clay County (No. 54), Wolfe County (No. 60), Breathitt County (No. 82), Harlan County (No. 86) and Owsley County (No. 97).

For the last several months a team of researchers were in Clay County interviewing low-income residents and leaders to understand existing challenges and what solutions would make a difference.

The report listed Clay County’s population as 20,866 residents with a poverty rate of 38.6%, compared to Kentucky’s overall poverty rate of 17.9% and the national poverty rate of 14%.  The report also shows that 37% of the county’s population receives food stamps.

Stories from the research team’s findings can be found on our website at:


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