Richest and poorest area codes in the US

A phone number communicates a lot. Practically speaking, it reveals where you can be reached, and the area of the country you're calling from. But if you dig a little deeper, an area code contains information about the economic situation of its residents, too.

To find out the 25 poorest and richest area codes, GOBankingRates used the 2015 Census Community Survey, the most recent data available, to rank cities across the nation in order of mean household income and sort by area code. To determine the richest and poorest, we averaged the incomes of the three highest-earning cities or lowest-earning cities to find the overall representative household income for a particular area code. Click through to see the wealthiest area codes — and the places that are struggling the most.


Poorest Area Codes

Many of the poorest area codes across the country are in rural areas where access to healthcare and education choices are limited. Some of the area codes are home to formerly prosperous mining or railroad towns whose heyday has long faded, leaving jobs and other economic opportunities in short supply. Others are tucked in agricultural areas or cities where a once-thriving main industry is on the downturn.

Richest and poorest US area codes
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Richest and poorest US area codes

25. Area Code 910 — Southeast North Carolina

Mean household income: $25,374

Rural and eastern parts of North Carolina are the areas most touched by poverty, with the 910 area code the poorest in the state. The least prosperous areas include Dobbins Heights, Norman and Ingold. In Ingold, although most employed residents work a 40-hour workweek, the median income is just $14,846.

Read More: Cities Where Incomes Are Shrinking — and Growing — the Fastest 

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24. Area Code 601 — Central Mississippi

Mean household income: $24,562

Grand antebellum mansions in Vicksburg, Natchez and elsewhere in Central Mississippi are reminders of a bygone era. The southern half of the nation's poorest state is one of the least prosperous in the nation, although not the poorest area code in Mississippi. Its poorest town, Port Gibson City, has an annual household income of $17,165. 

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23. Area Code 229 — Southwest Georgia

Mean household income: $24,327

Rural southwest Georgia is one of two area codes in the state that are among the poorest in the nation. In area code 229, Dougherty County surrounding Albany is the poorest in the state, with nearly 31 percent of people living in poverty. Only a third of its 93,000 residents have jobs.

In the state's most poverty-stricken town, Omega, only 25 percent of the population is employed, earning a median household income of $15,652. Nearly 59 percent of the town's residents are impoverished. 

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22. Area Code 803 — Central South Carolina

Mean household income: $23,986

Area code 803 stretches through the very heart of South Carolina and surrounds its state capital, Columbia. The area code is home to one of the largest remaining tracts of towering loblolly pines, protected within Congaree National Park, which you can visit for free.

The most impoverished town in the area code, Vance, was once an important port along the Santee River. Today, some of the state's best peaches are grown in the Vance area. However, the town has a poverty rate of 45 percent and a median household income of $17,292. 

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21. Area Code 406 — Montana

Mean household income: $23,776

Swanky ski areas like Whitefish and Red Lodge might come to mind when you think of Montana, but its statewide area code ranks as the 21st most impoverished in the nation. Ballantine, the most destitute town in the area code, is in the eastern part of the state, about a 90-minute drive from Red Lodge Resort. The median household income in the town is $18,654, compared with $51,122 in Whitefish or $42,500 in Red Lodge. 

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20. Area Code 218 — Northern Minnesota

Mean household income: $23,567

A vacation to northern Minnesota might take you to see tumbling waterfalls Voyageurs National Park or explore wilderness lakes in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. But for some residents in the state's 218 area code, life is no vacation. Half of the 16 Minnesota counties with a poverty rate greater than 14 percent lie within the area code, and over a dozen more counties have poverty levels of more than 11.5 percent. 

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19. Area Code 707 — Northwest California

Mean household income: $23,470

With its Hollywood star-studded beaches, stunning cliffside mansions and booming job growth, you might not expect to see a California area code among the top 20 poorest in the country. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state has the highest poverty level when using the Supplemental Poverty Measure that takes into account living costs.

Area code 707, which covers the northwest part of the state along the coast, has some of the hardest-hit areas. Residents of Valley Ford, in the western part of picturesque Sonoma County, have a median income of just $8,958 and a community poverty rate of over 85 percent. 

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18. Area Code 620 — Southern Kansas

Mean household income: $23,392

Although the mean household income for the 620 area code is under the federal poverty level for a family of four, places like Piqua have a median household income that's only half that. An old railroad town and the birthplace of actor Buster Keaton, Piqua has a median household income of just $12,009.

Despite the low wages, the town's economy is improving. There was a 23.5 percent increase in the town's employment and a 14 percent increase in property values between 2014 and 2015. 

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17. Area Code 417 — Southwest Missouri

Mean household income: $22,963

Most folks visiting the southwest part of Missouri head to the entertainment capital of Branson or to the many beautiful lakes that dot the region. But residents of the 417 area code have less-than-average disposable income for entertainment and sightseeing.

Just an hour's drive north of Branson, where the median household income tops $40,000 per year, you'll find South Greenfield. There, people struggle to make ends meet on a median household income of $10,833 and a poverty rate that exceeds 59 percent. The economy is on the decline, with a nearly 6 percent increase in joblessness and property values declining by more than 10 percent between 2014 and 2015. 

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16. Area Code 318 — North Central Louisiana

Mean household income: $22,300

Interstate 20 cuts through the most impoverished area code in Louisiana. The state ranked dead last in U.S. News & World Report's "Best States" list due to its low scores on factors such as healthcare, education, opportunity, crime and economy.

The town of Cullen is among the destitute areas, with a 40 percent poverty level and a median household income of $14,070. The economy is on the downturn, with property values dropping nearly 30 percent and joblessness increasing by about 17 percent. 

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15. Area Code 660 — North and Central Missouri

Mean household income: $22,213

The 660 area code extends up through central Missouri and across the top of the state. The area code is one of three in the state that rank as the most impoverished in the nation.

There, the rural town of Quitman, once a cattle ranching hub and trade center for sharecroppers, is no longer incorporated because no one ran for the board of trustees. The number of employed workers has declined by 52 percent and the poverty rate climbed to nearly 38 percent. Employed area workers bring in a median household income of $16,250.

Related: 10 US Cities That Have Gone Bankrupt 

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14. Area Code 276 — Southwest Virginia

Mean household income: $21,748

The far western reaches of Virginia paint a stark contrast to the prosperity found elsewhere throughout the state. Only 54 percent of people living in the area, much of which is within area code 276, are employed. There, suicide rates are triple those throughout the state as a whole, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Max Meadows has the lowest median household income in the area code, at $16,453. But the news is not all bleak. The area's poverty rate is just over 12.2 percent, better than the 13.5 percent across the nation as a whole. The formerly prosperous area is home to the Fort Chiswell Mansion, a state historic landmark, and its historic homes have seen a recent property value increase of 281 percent. 

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13. Area Code 402 — Eastern Nebraska

Mean household income: $21,706

Eastern Nebraska's 402 area code ranks as one of the most impoverished in the nation, but you'll also find some of the most prosperous cities there. For example, Omaha and Lincoln each have median household incomes of about $51,000, and Nebraska City has a median household income of about $42,000.

However, residents in rural areas have a different experience. Thurston is the area code's poorest county, with a poverty rate of 30.6 percent. In Nora, the census-designated place with the lowest income, the median annual income per household just under $19,000. 

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12. Area Code 870 — Eastern Arkansas

Mean household income: $20,863

Although poverty is shrinking in Arkansas overall, the state's 17 percent poverty rate is still well above the national rate of 13.5 percent. Area code 870, which encompasses much of the eastern part of the state, is particularly hard hit. Hermitage, in the state's southeast corner, has a poverty rate of 67.5 percent and a median household income of $16,250. 

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11. Area Code 478 — Central Georgia

Mean household income: $20,760

Georgia's other low-income area code surrounds the city of Macon. Macon County has a poverty rate of nearly 30 percent with significant declines in property value and employment recently. In the town of Ideal, life is anything but ideal for the average resident.

The poverty rate tops 48.5 percent and job growth has declined by nearly 5 percent. Property values have dropped a staggering 36 percent since 2014, and the 25 percent of residents who have jobs earn a median household income of $15,000.

Real Estate Downturn: Major Cities Where Home Prices Are Plummeting 

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10. Area Code 606 — Eastern Kentucky

Mean household income: $20,088

The 606 area code is the poorest in Kentucky and the 10th poorest in the nation. It's separated from metro areas like Lexington by the dense woodlands and rugged landforms of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The poorest town in the area code, Arjay has a poverty rate of 69 percent and a median household income of $12,609, a decline of 5 percent from the previous year. Job growth in the area is slowly expanding, however, with a 29 percent growth rate. 

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9. Area Code 785 — Northern Kansas

Mean household income: $19,722

Although the southern half of Kansas also made the list of poorest area codes in the nation, the 785 area code in northern Kansas along the Interstate 70 corridor is the worse off of the two. Rural Oak Hill has a median household income of just under $2,500 annually, and the median property value is under $10,000. The 82 percent poverty rate is slightly offset by the number of employees rising in the area to 24, an increase of 380 percent. 

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8. Area Code 928 — Rural Arizona

Mean household income: $19,651

Outside the swanky metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona keeps a little-known secret. Much of the state falls into the 928 area code, the eighth poorest in the nation.

You'll find resort towns like Sedona and Lake Havasu City within the 928 area code. But it's also home to sparsely populated ranching areas like Sun Valley along Old Route 66 and former mining towns like Chloride, with median household incomes as low as $13,151. Douglas is also considered to be one of the poorest cities in Arizona, according to a separate GOBankingRates study. 

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7. Area Code 361 — Corpus Christi, Texas, Area

Mean household income: $18,231

The 361 area code is the second-poorest area code in the state of Texas and the seventh poorest in the nation. The area code's poorest town, Concepcion, dates back to when Texas was part of Spain. The town celebrates its ranching roots with the annual Fiesta Del Rancho each October with live entertainment, carnival, parade, contests, bingo and a trail ride. Concepcion is a two-hour drive west of the resort town of Corpus Christi, which is also within the 361 area code.

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6. Area Code 956 — The Texas-Mexico Border Near Brownsville

Mean household income: $18,182

The Rio Grande River Valley, stretching along the Texas-Mexico Border on the southern tip of Texas, ranks as the sixth most impoverished area code in the country. Nearly half of the residents of Bluetown, the area code's poorest city, live in poverty with a median household income of $14,479. The area code also includes resort town South Padre Island, a more prosperous area located an hour's drive east of Bluetown.

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5. Area Code 662 — Northern Mississippi

Mean household income: $17,953

Covering the upper half of Mississippi, area code 662 ranks as the fifth poorest across the U.S. The poorest area of all is the town of Tchula. Once a thriving trade and shipping center settled in the early 1800s, it's the poorest town in the poorest state in the country. The economic despair dates back to the Civil War era, and you can still see crumbling plantations separated from more modest brick homes on the other side of the railroad tracks.

Find Out: Best and Worst States for Families to Live a Richer Life 

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4. Area Code 304 — West Virginia

Mean household income: $17,637

The 304 area code covers the entire state of West Virginia and ranks fourth as one of the poorest area codes in the country. Its poorest town, Pageton, has a median household income of $13,250 and lies in McDowell County, the poorest in the state.

John F. Kennedy campaigned in the county prior to the 1960 presidential election and was so alarmed by conditions there that he later created the modern food stamp program, with the county's residents as the first recipients. The devastating poverty of Appalachia contrasts with the beauty of the West Virginia hills, but it inspired programs like Medicare, Medicaid and free school lunches that benefit impoverished Americans nationwide. 

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3. Area Code 580 — South and West Oklahoma

Mean household income: $17,592

Areas lying outside prosperous Oklahoma City and Tulsa make up the third-poorest area code in the country. The area code covers the panhandle, western and southern areas of the state.

Amorita, in the northern part of the state, is the poorest city in the area code, with a $13,750 median household income. It was a prosperous railroad town of more than 250 residents in the early 1900s, but the Alfalfa County city took a hit during the Great Depression when the railroad abandoned its line. Today, it houses fewer than 10 residents. 

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2. Area Code 573 — Eastern Missouri

Mean household income: $16,895

Once the proud county seat of Montgomery County, Danville was burned and ransacked during the Civil War, and many of its citizens were murdered by pro-Confederate guerrilla forces. Today, it has fewer than 50 residents, with 100 percent of them living below the poverty line at a median income of $10,598.

Though it's one of the poorest areas in the country, the 573 area code offers up natural beauty like Graham Cave State Park just 3 miles west of Danville and the Mark Twain National Forest 80 miles south. 

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1. Area Code 575 — Rural New Mexico

Mean household income: $15,110

Northern New Mexico is famous for its Santa Fe art scene, Albuquerque balloon festival and Taos ski areas. The 575 area code covers those places, but it's also home to some of the poorest areas in the country.

Rodeo, with a median household income of $10,655, tucks along the New Mexico-Arizona border. It's home to the world-class Chiricahua Desert Museum featuring Native American artifacts, an art gallery, a Desert Botanical Garden, outdoor sculptures and a live reptile exhibit with more than 50 species.

Read More: Survival Tips If You're Living Paycheck to Paycheck  

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How the Richest and Poorest Compare

Viewed on a map, the differences between the 10 richest and poorest area codes are stark. The 10 richest area codes are in urban centers, while the poorest area codes are in rural areas. 

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The Richest Area Codes

Large metropolitan areas with prosperous industry and businesses form the hub of the richest areas across the nation. Look for the wealthiest area codes both in the metropolitan areas and upscale suburbs just outside the core of the city.

Up Next: Best and Worst States for the Middle Class

Methodology: GOBankingRates sourced the 2015 Census Community Survey income data to determine the wealth of area codes across the nation in order of mean household income. To find the richest area codes, the top-three highest mean incomes per area code were averaged to come up with the mean income for the entire area code. To find the poorest area codes, the bottom-three lowest mean incomes per area code were averaged to come up with mean income for the entire area code. Only area codes with at least three high income or low-income cities were included. Area codes with both wealthy and poor cities were classified as either "rich" or "poor" if they had more wealthy or more poor cities in total. Area codes were sourced from

This article originally appeared on Richest and Poorest Area Codes in the US

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