Discover the Poorest Town in Louisiana

Written by Samantha Stanich
Updated: August 8, 2023
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According to Wisevoter, Louisiana is the second poorest state in the United States. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Urania is the poorest town, not only in Louisiana, but in America. Urania’s median annual income is only $12,358 and the poverty rate is 40.4%.

The state’s economy relies on energy, tourism, and agriculture, which can be subject to volatility.

©iStock.com/Oleksii Liskonih

Recent studies found that a single-person home learning less than $14,580 per year is below the poverty line. An average of 13% of residents in the United States live below the poverty line. This equals 42 million people out of the estimated population of over 334,475,000. Louisiana has a relatively high population of 4.5 million people. About 845,000 residents live in poverty. This equals roughly 18.65% of the population. Low wages, high unemployment, taxes, and other factors continue to plague the state.

The 10 Poorest States in the United States

StatePercent of People Living in PovertyState’s Contribution to GDP
10. Tennessee14.62%1.83%
9. South Carolina14.68%1.18%
8. Oklahoma15.27%0.90%
7. Alabama15.98%1.08%
6. Arkansas16.08%0.63%
5. Kentucky16.61%1.03%
4. West Virginia17.10%0.38%
3. New Mexico18.55%0.48%
2. Louisana18.65%1.12%
1. Mississippi19.58%0.55%

About Urania: The Poorest Town in Louisiana

Urania. Louisiana. USA.

The small town faces a grim reality of many southern towns: industries leave, and they are left behind.

©SevenMaps/Shutterstock.com

Urania is located in LaSalle Parish, Louisiana. The small town has a declining population with the last census stating it was around 700 residents. Located in the heart of The Pelican State, the close-knit community is full of life. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy such as fishing, hunting, and camping in nearby state parks. The town is the epitome of a small-town lifestyle.

What is a Parish?

Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes in the same way Alaska is divided into boroughs, or how other states are divided into counties. The term parish dates back to the Spanish and French colonial periods.

Poorest Parish in Louisiana

The U.S. Census Bureau stated that East Carroll Parish is the poorest parish in the state. An estimated 47.3% of the residents live below the poverty line.

A map of Louisiana, USA from Spofford's Atlas of the World, printed in the United States in 1900, created by Rand McNally & Co.

The term parish stems from a church-based system that the European founders set up in colonial times.

©Jim Pruitt/Shutterstock.com

Why Is Urania the Poorest Town in Louisiana?

As you can see in the top 10 poorest states in the U.S., poverty is rampant in the south. In fact, it has always been historically higher in the south than in the north. And the situation in Urania is one that many small rural southern towns face in America. Many towns relied on industries such as coal mining or steel, and the fact is that these industries are abandoning these communities. Either the industry itself disappeared or the country is getting the resources a cheaper way. This leaves these small towns under-resourced and residents without jobs to easily access. Towns in the south have a long history of racial and economic inequality. And again, these problems are only exacerbated by the loss of industry in the region.

Small poor towns like Urania often have residents with a lower education level than the national average. This can be due to taking on blue-collar jobs to support their family at young ages, or not seeing a point in diving into education because the unemployment that surrounds the town is so high. And then, a lower education is often associated with a lower-paying job.

In Urania, only 5.4% of adults obtained their bachelor’s degree or higher. The national bachelor’s degree attainment is around 35%.

The Economy of Urania

The economy of Urania employs a little over 200 people. The largest industries in the town are:

  • Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Mining, Quarrying, and Oil & Gas Extraction
  • Manufacturing

The Mining, Quarrying, and Oil & Gas Extraction industries are the highest paying at $61,042. And despite this statistic, its contribution to poverty remains high as well. This is due to the volatile price fluctuations within the industry combined with a lack of diversification outside of the industry as an economic driver. the state of Louisiana heavily relies on fossil fuels.

Where Is Urania Located on a Map?

The small town is in the heart of Louisiana. Its total area is 1.2 square miles (3.1 sq km) of which 1.2 square miles (3.1 sq km) is land and 0.80% is water.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Katherine Welles/Shutterstock.com


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