The US Census Bureau estimated last year that Owsley county’s 4,461-person population is more than 98 percent white. According to Al Jazeera’s analysis of US census data, it is the nation’s poorest white-majority county in terms of annual median household income. At 10.4 percent last year, the county’s unemployment rate in 2015 was nearly twice as much as the national average of 5.25 percent. Worse still, Owsley county’s median household income of $19,146 was just over a third of the national median income of $55,775 in 2015.
More than 45 percent of Owsley county’s population lives below the government-designated poverty line, including 56.3 percent of children and more than a third of those over 65. According to recent data available from the US government, more than half of personal income came from governmental monetary benefits in 2009, and at least 52 percent of the county’s residents received food stamps in 2011.