The Name of Virginia’s Poorest Town Has Been Revealed

Jonesville, a small town in Virginia, is emblematic of the socioeconomic challenges faced by many rural communities in the United States. Despite Virginia’s overall prosperity, with a median household income of $80,615, Jonesville starkly contrasts this figure, having the lowest income among the 328 towns with available data​​.

This article delves into the causes of Jonesville’s economic difficulties, their impact on the community, and explores potential solutions for a brighter future.

Jonesville’s Economic Challenges

1. Location and Isolation

Jonesville, nestled in Lee County in southwest Virginia, suffers from geographical isolation. This remoteness limits access to transportation, communication, and essential services, further distancing it from major economic hubs​​.

2. Economic Decline and Unemployment

Historically dependent on coal mining, Jonesville’s economy has struggled due to environmental regulations, competition, and automation. The town’s unemployment rate stands at 9.8%, significantly higher than the state’s 4.6% average​​​​.

3. Poverty and Inequality

With a poverty rate of 38.7% and a median household income of just $23,750, poverty in Jonesville is more than a statistic; it’s a pervasive reality affecting the entire community​​. The per capita income is only $18,365, and the median household income falls to $16,830, both considerably lower than state and national averages​​​​.

The Impact of Poverty

1. Health and Lifespan

Poverty in Jonesville not only limits economic opportunities but also adversely affects residents’ health. The life expectancy in Jonesville is 72.8 years, significantly lower than the state average of 79.5 years​​.

2. Social and Economic Well-being

The high poverty rate impacts education, employment, income, and community safety, leading to increased crime and insecurity​​.

Jonesville’s Demographics

The town’s population is 1,259, with a median age of 50.7 years, which is higher than both the county and state averages​​​​. Educational attainment is a concern, with only 12.7% of residents having a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 41% in Virginia​​.

Economic Landscape

1. Employment Sectors

Jonesville’s economy is diverse, with significant employment in sectors like retail trade (12.7%), health care and social assistance (11.0%), and public administration (10.4%)​​. However, the town has experienced a 1.0% decrease in the job market over the last year, with future job growth predicted to be 17.3%, lower than the national average​​.

2. Cost of Living

Despite the economic challenges, Jonesville offers a low cost of living. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $780/month, much lower than the national average​​.

Potential Solutions

1. Investment and Development

Diversifying the local economy through agriculture, tourism, and renewable energy, coupled with infrastructure improvements, could create jobs and opportunities​​.

2. Education and Training

Improving residents’ skills and employability through quality education, vocational training, and career guidance is essential​​.

3. Protection and Support

Ensuring accessible healthcare, social security, and community strengthening is crucial to address the immediate needs of residents​​.


The situation in Jonesville is a stark reminder of the economic disparities within regions of the United States. While the challenges are significant, they are not insurmountable. Through strategic investments, educational improvements, and community support, there is potential for Jonesville to overcome its economic hardships and pave the way for a more prosperous future. This endeavor is not just about improving statistics but about changing lives and strengthening the fabric of the community​​.

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