By one intriguing measure, the West, not the South, has the highest poverty rate in the United States. According to Census data that take into account the costs of living in each state and the role of federal aid in coping with those costs, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, at 20.6 percent of the population, compared with 17.9 percent for Louisiana, 17 percent for Mississippi and 16.8 percent for Georgia. Over all, the West, with an alternative poverty rate of 15.7 percent, is virtually tied with the South, at 15.4 percent.

Read more: Poverty in Unexpected Places