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West Virginia

West Virginia is the only state that completely lies within Appalachia, which is a federally defined region marked by its endemic poverty. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, West Virginia in 2012 had a population of 1,855,413. Approximately 17.6 percent of the state’s population at the time was classified by the federal government as living below the poverty level. The poverty rate is even higher for families with children, at approximately 21 percent. Although local poverty workers believe that the federal government is underreporting the extent of West Virginia’s poverty, many residents are insulted by the insinuation that they are poor.

West Virginia’s persistent poverty first drew national attention in 1960, when Senator John F. Kennedy went to West Virginia to campaign in the state’s presidential ...

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