It is a competition for which you definitely do not want to come in first: What is the poorest county in your state? Recent data from the Census Bureau on county poverty rates, based on the 2010 Census, reveals that in dozens of counties across the country, more than a third of the population lives in poverty, reports.

The 2007-2009 recession plunged the number of Americans living in poverty to record levels. According to the Census Bureau, more than 15 percent of the U.S. population, about 46 million people, fell below the official poverty line of $22,314 a year for a family of four. That is the highest percentage of people living in poverty since 1993.

The situation is worse in some U.S. counties. says that among the poorest counties in some states, the poverty rate is 30 percent or higher. Some examples:

  • Wilcox County, the poorest county in Alabama, has an overall poverty rate of 39.6 percent, with 52.5 percent of county residents under age 18 living in poverty. The rural county’s median household income of $21,611 is less than half the national median income.
  • In Stewart, Georgia’s poorest county, 38.1 percent of the residents live in poverty, and 46.1 percent of residents under age 18 are poor. The county on the Georgia-Alabama border only had one building permit granted in 2010.
  • Apache County, Arizona’s poorest, has a poverty rate of 34.5 percent, while 41.8 percent of residents under 18 live in poverty. The rural county with a large population of American Indians has the 14th highest poverty rate among all counties.
  • Sharing a border with Apache County is McKinley County, the poorest county in New Mexico, where 32.6 percent of all residents and 42.8 percent of those under 18 live in poverty. Like its next-state neighbor, McKinley has a large population of Native Americans and a median household income of $29,473.