Via NYTimes.com: ‘…[We looked] at six data points for each county in the United States: education percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree, median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking.We tried to include other factors, including income mobility and measures of environmental quality, but we were not able to find data sets covering all counties in the United States.
The 10 lowest counties in the country, by this ranking, include a cluster of six in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky Breathitt, Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie and Magoffin, along with four others in various parts of the rural South: Humphreys County, Miss.; East Carroll Parish, La.; Jefferson County, Ga.; and Lee County, Ark.’