The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

A Tribute to the Late Sam Brannum, a True-Blue Trooper for the Delta--December 26, 2022

Posted on December 26, 2022 at 02:33 PM

Our region has lost a dedicated and dynamic leader with the passing of Sam Brannum, a senior Congressional aide who fought for economic progress and social justice in the First District of Arkansas, a US Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, and a consultant providing services for individuals, businesses and agencies seeking assistance with federal loan programs.

Sam Brannum died on Dec. 9, 2022 at John McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock. He was truly a compassionate, amiable and generous soul who is mourned by countless friends in Arkansas, Washington, DC and elsewhere.

Sam was born in 1951 in the heartland Delta community of Osceola, Arkansas. After graduating from Jonesboro AR High School in 1969, he served in the US Navy on two combat tours to Vietnam in what he called “the smallest destroyer in the US Navy.” In serving his country he contracted the chemical Agent Orange, with the inevitable destructive damage to his health over the years. He waged a courageous battle against his health issues and maintained his sense of humor and strength for his family and friends until the end.

In later years he often emphasized to everyone how grateful he was when the US finally pulled out of Vietnam.

After his military service, he earned a degree in Business and Economics from Arkansas State University and served as a US Census Regional Coordinator in northeast Arkansas for the 1980 census.

Sam is best known to the general public for his stalwart and effective service as senior Congressional aide for Congressman Bill Alexander of the First District of Arkansas.

Congressman Alexander was Chief Deputy Majority Whip and a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, and Sam was his point man for bringing water projects, job creation, transportation and other infrastructure improvements, public safety, and other beneficial gains for the economic development and quality of life for the people of east Arkansas, one of the most economically distressed areas in the country.

This may be difficult to understand today, but in that era large numbers of people in Arkansas did not have safe drinking water. Due to the tireless efforts of Rep. Alexander and Sam Brannum, literally thousands of Arkansans gained access to safe drinking water for the first time in their lives.

Among the infrastructure projects Sam played a key role in was the Grand Prairie water district, the largest water project in America. People in Arkansas continue to benefit from these projects today.

These infrastructure and quality of life initiatives provided real help in the lives of many lower income and minority people in Arkansas who badly needed them. Far from being “pork barrel” projects as some naysayers on the right claimed, the works Sam and his boss engineered were a classic example of the potential for positive governmental impact in the lives of everyday citizens.

Those enlightened initiatives helped then and now many people who may never have heard of Sam Brannum’s name. But he wasn’t doing it for recognition, but to help the people of his homeland.

Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell served on Alexander’s Washington, DC staff and worked with Sam Brannum for many years.

There were many memories of those years, but what stands out most in Powell’s mind was the courageous, creative and ultimately successful effort in Congressman Alexander’s 1990 Democratic primary election against Mike Gibson, a talented, very conservative lawyer from Osceola. Powell took a leave of absence from his government job in DC to work on the campaign.

The 1990 First District primary between Alexander and Gibson was one of the great battle royales in the history of Arkansas—and American—politics.

Alexander faced many opponents over his 24 years in the US House of Representatives, but none more formidable than Gibson, an engaging speaker, a lawyer like Alexander from the heartland Delta community of Osceola, and although a Democrat, someone who appealed to the more hard-core right wing sentiments of some voters in Arkansas. Early on Gibson was making impressive showings in polls, but Alexander’s team made a huge comeback and returned him to Congress.

Powell remembers a campaign staff meeting where Alexander’s campaign manager, the distinguished northeast Arkansas attorney H. T. Moore, was grimly realistic and told the group that “We know we’re in trouble.” That was when Sam and the team became energized and went to work.

There were some advisers who thought the best strategy for Alexander was to portray the congressman as a “warm and fuzzy” personality. Brannum and Powell were convinced that this would never work; Ronald Reagan might win an election on his personality, but Alexander would win based on the substance of his accomplishments for infrastructure, civil rights, job creation, and quality of life for his constituents.

Brannum and Powell went to work with an intensive communications and political strategy documenting the many substantive projects Alexander had brought to his district. In local media and campaign communications in every county of the district, the facts of how many jobs, water and sewer projects, transportation improvements, federal aid to education, and other benefits for the people of the district.

The strategy began to pay off, and the contrast between Gibson’s negative campaigning against Alexander as allegedly an “out of touch congressman who was focused on the Washington, DC culture” and the substantive record of accomplishments by Alexander began turning the tide in favor of the no-nonsense incumbent.

Powell remembers vividly how energetic and up-beat Sam Brannum remained in the teeth of this stressful campaign. At stake was the career of a moderately progressive, national and local leader of Democrats, against a staunchly conservative Democrat who was not far from the positions of the Republican Party.

“We were driving through rural east Arkansas one day in the middle of the campaign, and Sam seemed as energetic and amiable as ever,” Powell recalls. “His amiability was even rubbing off on me and somehow I was enjoying the intensity of the campaign in spite of the electric and unceasing pressure to pull off the comeback. I asked Sam how in the world he stayed so positive when many people at the time were predicting an Alexander loss,” Powell said.

Sam replied, “Well, it’s hard as hell, but we might as well find a way to enjoy it while it lasts.” Powell didn’t know whether he was crazy, blowing smoke to put the best face on a dire situation, poorly informed, or courageous. He decided to be charitable and say he was both crazy and courageous.

After his service in Congress ended, Sam founded his consulting firm, Capital Ventures, Inc., providing services for many agencies, businesses and individuals who needed help in gaining access to federal loan programs. He and his devoted wife Lisa divided their time between homes in Little Rock, Jonesboro and Mountain View, Arkansas.

He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and once went duck hunting with President Bill Clinton and a few others. He loved the natural beauty and majestic sights along the White River and many other outdoor attractions in the vast Delta lands of the First District.

Today, let’s celebrate and remember the life and legacy of Sam Brannum.

A great way to honor his memory would be to make contributions to two causes that he supported in particular: the Arkansas Food Bank ( and Disabled American Veterans

Rest in peace, good ol’ Sam.

Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347

Delta Caucus Regional Conference Set for May 25-26, 2023 at Clinton Center in Little Rock

Posted on December 23, 2022 at 11:28 AM

“Delta Regional Conference Main Session Set for Friday, May 26, 2023 at Clinton Library”

The Delta Caucus Regional Conference main session is set for Friday, May 26, 2023 at the Clinton Library Great Hall in Little Rock from about 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The opening evening session will be on Thursday May 25, 2023 from about 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Little Rock (site TBD, hopefully AR Capitol Rotunda).

Our usual location is the Rotunda of the Arkansas State Capitol, but they do not make reservations this far in advance. The opening will be likely at the State Capitol, or if not at some other central Little Rock location.


We will invite Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, President Bill Clinton, Members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation, state and local elected officials, nonprofits, community-minded business leaders, and professionals in health care, transportation, job creation, USDA and DRA programs, and other community and economic development issues in the 8-state Greater Delta.

Of course, most speakers do not confirm this far ahead of time. We will keep you posted on confirmed speakers as we get those finalized.

Information on schedule, registration fees, and likely group hotel are below.


You register by paying the $100 registration fees.


If you can get a group of three or more people together we will discount it to $50 each.

For a group of five or more we will discount it to $30 each.

The fastest and easiest way to pay the fees is to go the website at and click on the link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601


OPENING SESSION: 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening, May 25, 2023 (at either the Arkansas State Capitol Rotunda or another central Little Rock location)

MAIN SESSION: 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Friday morning and lunch, May 26, 2023, at Clinton Library Great Hall

Opening evening informal networking session: We have an informal networking session at the group hotel lobby and bar where they serve food and drinks, right after the opening session from about 6:50 p.m. to 8 p.m.


We are working on finalizing the group hotel at the nearby Comfort Inn & Suites Presidential. When we get that confirmed, we will send out a message asking you to get the group rate of $129 by calling the hotel at (501) 687-7700 and saying you are with the Delta Caucus.

Most people check in to the hotel in the afternoon of Thursday May 25, the opening session, Then they check out in the morning of Friday, May 26, go to the main session and are on their way back home starting early Friday afternoon.

We look forward to convening after absences due to the pandemic. We will take whatever precautions are necessary depending on what the situation is with the various Covid strains on May 25-26, 2023. Look forward to seeing everybody then. Thanks–Lee Powell, Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347

Hunger in the Delta Rising Sharply, according to Hunger Free America Report--Message of Nov. 28, 2022

Posted on November 28, 2022 at 04:38 PM

Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus Nov. 28, 2022 CONTACT: Lee Powell, Caucus Director (202) 360-6347

Hunger Free America Report Shows Hunger Rising Sharply in Delta Region and Nationally

The Delta Caucus conveys this report by Hunger Free America and the Kupersmit professional research organization showing hunger was sharply higher in the Delta especially and also in other regions of the country in October of 2022 than in October of 2021.

The surge was caused by the expiration of Child Tax Credits and universal school meals, combined with the impact of inflation. Please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to reinstate these vital programs and increase the SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits.

The report found that the number of people without enough food over one 7-day period was 29.6% higher in October 2022 than October 2021. The increase in Mississippi was a massive 60%, in Arkansas a high increase of 24%.

See Hunger Free America website– for the full report


The Delta states unfortunately continued to fare poorly: three of the highest food insecurity rates in America were in our region for the period between 2019-2021, according to USDA data. (Texas had the highest rate at 16.8% and Oklahoma the third highest at 15.3%)

• Mississippi second highest nationally at 15.6%

• Louisiana fourth at 14.8%,

• Arkansas fifth at 14.3%.

• Kentucky’s level was 13%

• Alabama: 12.8%

• Tennessee: 11.4%


• Mississippi was the second worst nationally at 19%,

• Louisiana was the fourth worst at 18.2%.

• Kentucky: 17.0%

• Arkansas: 16.8%

• Alabama: 16,4%

• Tennessee: 13.3%

OLDER PEOPLE (60 years or older):

• Mississippi had the highest food insecurity nationally for older people at 12.6%.

• Louisiana was next at 12.3%

• Kentucky: 8.8%

• Alabama: 8.8%

• Arkansas: 7.6%

• Tennessee: 6.9%


This is a problem for many people who are employed, not just the unemployed:

• Arkansas had the highest food insecurity rate for employed adults at 11.9%

• Louisiana was fourth at 11.2%.

• Mississippi: 11.0%

• Tennessee: 8.9%

• Alabama: 8.6%

• Kentucky: 7.0%

This surge reversed the impressive gains made in the previous year

The number of households without enough to eat nation-wide declined 41.1% between December 2020 and April 2021, coinciding with a 22.7% increase in federal SNAP spending during the same time period, according to U.S. Census Household Pulse data analyzed by the report.

Food insufficiency rates today, however, are back to what they were in April 2020, when the US was still in the early stages of the pandemic.

Note on the condensed and selected data from the report:

We include data here for the heartland Delta states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and the Alabama Black Belt, which is geographically not adjacent to the Delta but broadly similarly demographically and historically. Ideally it would of course be much better to include only data for the Delta counties, but unfortunately statistics are kept at the state-wide, county and municipal levels, but generally not at the regional level for the Greater Delta. We have included data for those states where the state-wide data is at least generally indicative of the Delta situation.

It would be inaccurate to include state-wide data for Illinois and Missouri. Southeast Missouri and southern Illinois are integral parts of the region and have characteristically high levels of economic distress in general, but they are relatively small parts of their states and the rest of those two states have areas that are relatively much more urban and prosperous. It would not convey the reality in southeast Missouri and southern Illinois to convey state-wide data. In the other states the differences between the Delta areas and the rest of the states’ areas is much smaller.

Tennessee does have some prosperous areas outside of the Delta such as the Nashville area, but the large Appalachian area of east Tennessee is broadly similar to the Delta in its relatively high level of economic distress.

We use the broad definition of the Greater Arkansas Delta to include Little Rock and basically the eastern half of the state. Northwest Arkansas (which of course is not in the Delta) is much more prosperous than eastern Arkansas, but the Delta is a large part of the state as a whole. The Jonesboro-Paragould area in northeast Arkansas is much more prosperous than most of east Arkansas. West Little Rock is mostly more prosperous, but there are pockets of substantial poverty in some Little Rock neighborhoods.  

Executive Summary of Hunger Free America Report


Continue reading...

Please Send in Annual Delta Caucus Membership Dues for Year from Fall, 2022 to Fall, 2023

Posted on October 14, 2022 at 12:38 PM

Please send in Annual Membership Dues for Year from Fall, 2022 to Fall, 2023

Please send in annual membership dues for the year from now in October, 2022 to October, 2023.

The best way to send in the dues is to go to the website of and click on the Paypal link that says “Donate.”

(There is a mailing address below if you prefer to register by check.)

The annual membership dues are essential for our continuing informational/advocacy activities and are at the modest levels of:

–$50 for smaller organizations or individuals,

–$75 for medium-sized nonprofits, colleges, small businesses, or other organizations;

–$100 for larger universities, foundations, corporations and other larger-scale entities, or for longstanding partners or other individuals who wish to contribute a larger amount.

The easiest and quickest way to send dues is to go on the website at and go to the PayPal link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to :”Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

Membership dues are required to attend the conferences at the Clinton Library, on Capitol Hill or elsewhere, to receive updates in our newsletters and other Delta Caucus activities.

OPTIONAL–Possible Sponsorship donations: For those who wish to be sponsors for our grassroots network’s activities, you will be recognized on the big placards on display at conferences, in group newsletters, on the website and other Delta Caucus communications:

–regular sponsorships are $250;

–a Major Co-Sponsorship is $500

–$1,000 for a Lead Sponsorship.

We will set the dates for the late spring of 2023 Delta Conference at the Clinton Library as soon as the Congressional calendar comes out.

We plan to have a conference TBD in the fall of 2023 either on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, or in Little Rock elsewhere in the region.

We all know that we have plenty of challenges in the region, but there have also been some positive signs of late;

The Delta Regional Authority budget is sound at $30 million, and while we would like to see it substantially larger, we are in a much better situation now than in previous decades when the budget was $5 million or so and we had to defeat efforts to slash the budget further or even abolish the agency. We believe it is on sound, permanent footing now, although we need to keep advocating for its regional development activities.

We continue to support USDA hunger and nutrition, rural development and related programs, health care for underserved populations, job creation at good wages, education and workforce development, Delta Heritage tourism and other community and economic development initiatives for the 8-state Delta region.

We will keep you posted and appreciate your longstanding involvement with our grassroots regional network. Lee Powell, Director, Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347

Data on Economic, Quality of Life and other Key Indicators for Greater Delta Region--2022

Posted on October 05, 2022 at 04:13 PM

Data on Economic and other Key Indicators for Delta Region, Fall, 2022

Oct. 4, 2022

(NOTE: We may include revisions or additions to this document. This document is more of a reference guide as opposed to an article that can easily be read entirely at one sitting. You may wish to refer back to it occasionally for context. We need to understand that these figures are on the whole negative, with a few bright spots like cost of living.)


Most key indicators remain substantially negative: The Greater Delta Region has six states among the highest 10 poverty levels in the USA, six of the 10 highest food insecurity rankings, and many other economic indicators continue to lag for the region.

Six of the 9 states with the worst child poverty levels are in the Greater Delta.

National rankings for the USA are severely low for child poverty, with 11 million children below the poverty line—about one in 7 kids. The Delta states rank at or near the bottom of the negative national data.

Unfortunately, Louisiana ranked dead last in pollution, Tennessee was 7th and Alabama 9th. For these states, the notion that these areas have rural, wide-open and relatively pollution-free environments is obviously erroneous.

On the positive side, the Delta ranked much higher in indicators regarding cost of living and some areas fared relatively well regarding pollution data:

• five of the 11 states with the lowest cost of living are in the region

• Mississippi and Arkansas ranked above average in air quality.

Unfortunately, Louisiana ranked dead last in pollution, Tennessee was 7th and Alabama 9th.

To get an accurate overview, a range of key indicators have to be considered. Just focusing on a couple of them like poverty or employment will give a skewed picture.

The key indicators for the following are listed below in this document:

1) Poverty

2) Cost of living

3) Unemployment (these figures are always subject to fluctuations and are at best a snap-shot of a particular moment in time)

4) Lowest average incomes

5) Food insecurity

6) Air pollution and 7) Water pollution

8) Quality of life (this is more subjective, with crime levels, education, congestion, and other factors such as poverty often being factored into the various rankings)


1) National rankings for the USA are disappointingly low among the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries that are democracies with market-based economies—the US rates are at 17.8% as compared to 10.7% for 25 OECD countries.

Where does America rank on poverty? The USA is among the three countries with the worst rankings among the 37 OECD countries. Source: OECD Data, 2019.

What the OECD found is that the U.S. rates of poverty are substantially higher and more extreme than those found in the other 25 nations. The overall U.S. rate using this measure stands at 17.8 percent, compared to the 25-country average of 10.7 percent.

The Delta region unfortunately ranks at or near the bottom in poverty rankings within the USA, which ranks substantially below average among other comparable economies.

For average income, the US figures are much more positive than for poverty: the US is 7th in average income at $70,430. Delta states have lower income averages.

2) Delta state rankings are low but with the exception of Mississippi’s consistently high poverty levels, the figures show limited, tentative signs of improvement after the generally higher rates in 2017-2019.

It should not surprise anyone that many of the Delta states still rank near the bottom in poverty, since this historical trend goes back for many decades and the other states the region competes with are not going to stand still. There is some limited evidence of improvement in the Delta poverty levels over the past three years.

It should be emphasized that these minor improvements would have to gather force over a long period of time and become statistically more significant before any conclusion of major improvement can be made. Rates are from

Below are the 10 states with the highest poverty levels, followed by poverty rates for Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Rates for Missouri and Illinois are included to some extent further below in this document, but southern Illinois is a very small part of Illinois and urban areas like Chicago are demographically very different from the southernmost part of the state. Southeast Missouri is also a small part of Missouri and that area is substantially different from Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas and the central and northern parts of the state.


  1. Mississippi 19.07%
  2. Louisiana 18.05%
  3. New Mexico 17.9%
  4. West Virginia 16.84%
  5. Kentucky 15.82%
  6. Arkansas 15.51%
  7. Alabama 15.03%
  8. Oklahoma 14.63%
  9. South Carolina 13.92%
  10. Tennessee 13.74%

Missouri ranked 19th with a poverty level of 12.49%

Illinois ranked 26th with a poverty level of 11.62%

Mississippi poverty rates over four years:

2020– 19.6%

2019– 19.6%

2018– 19.7%

2017– 19.8%

Louisiana poverty rates over four years:

2020– 18.6%

2019– 19.0%

2018– 18.6%

2017– 19.7%

Kentucky “”:

2020– 16.6%

2019— 16.3%

2018– 16.9%

2017— 17.2%

Arkansas poverty rates:

2020– 16.1%

2019– 16.2%

2018– 17.2%

2017– 16.4%


2020– 16.0%

2019– 15.5%

2018– 16.8%

2017– 16.9%

States with the greatest percentage of children living in poverty:

6 of the 9 states with the worst child poverty are in the Greater Delta.

  1. Mississippi – 27.6%
  2. Louisiana – 26.3%
  3. New Mexico – 25.6%
  4. West Virginia – 23.1%
  5. Alabama – 22.7%
  6. Kentucky – 22.2%
  7. Arkansas – 22%
  8. South Carolina – 21.2%
  9. Tennessee – 20.8%

Poverty Rate by U.S. State

Fortunately, the U.S. poverty rate trends in recent years are declining; however, poverty is still a significant problem across the country. The national poverty rate in 2017 was 13.4% after falling for the fifth year in a row and was 12.3% in 2019. These numbers are provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, which uses data from the American Community Survey.

The highest poverty rate in the country is in Mississippi, where 19.6% of the population lives in poverty. However, this has improved from 2012, when the state’s poverty rate was nearly 25%.

Mississippi has the lowest median household income of any state of $45,792. Mississippi’s educational attainment levels are among the lowest in the U.S., with about 84.5% of adults graduating high school and 22% of adults having at least a Bachelor’s degree.

DEFINITION OF POVERTY–“How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty.” The amount of income necessary to purchase these basic needs is set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The 2019 poverty line was $13,300 for an individual under age 65 and $12,261 for those 65 or older. The poverty line for a three-person family with one child and two adults was $20,578 in 2019; for a five-person family with two adults and three children the poverty line was $30,510.


The poverty rate in 2019 nationally was 12.3%, down from 13.4% in 2017. In the previous five years before 2017 the poverty rate had declined every year. Largely due to COVID-19, poverty levels began increasing during the epidemic and are now beginning to decrease again.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national poverty rate was 11.4% in 2020. This is the first increase in poverty after five annual declines. These states and territories have the highest percentages of poverty in the country: Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, and Georgia.

These are from the US Census Bureau. Please note that other organizations may have somewhat different rankings, but most of them are generally not too far apart.

Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee ranked in the bottom 10 states with the worst poverty levels.


  1. Mississippi 19.07%
  2. Louisiana 18.05%
  3. New Mexico 17.9%
  4. West Virginia 16.84%
  5. Kentucky 15.82%
  6. Arkansas 15.51%
  7. Alabama 15.03%
  8. Oklahoma 14.63%
  9. South Carolina 13.92%
  10. Tennessee 13.74%

Missouri ranked 19th with a poverty level of 12.49%

Illinois ranked 26th with a poverty level of 11.62%

(Note: The figures for Missouri and Illinois are much less useful and can be misleading in these analyses, because the Delta areas of these states are a small part of their population as a whole and much of their states include other regions that are generally more affluent and differ substantially from the southernmost Delta states.)

Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi include Delta areas that are roughly one half or more of their states. We include the Alabama Black Belt in our region because of its demographic, economic and historical similarities to the Delta as well as its inclusion in the Delta Regional Authority, although it is a small part of Alabama. Alabama as a whole, however, does not differ sharply from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi in most of these indicators.

The western Kentucky Delta is a relatively small part of the overall Delta region, but the eastern part of that state has another economically distressed region–Appalachia–so that Kentucky does not differ sharply on the whole from most of the other Delta states economically and demographically.

Tennessee like Kentucky also includes an Appalachia area in its east that also has lower economic indicators on the whole. Nashville and other urban areas, however, are generally more prosperous and Tennessee generally has a stronger economy on the whole than AR, LA, MS and AL.


The Delta has 5 of the 11 states with the lowest cost of living.

Mississippi had the lowest cost of living

Alabama had the fourth lowest

Missouri ranked 7th

Tennessee ranked 10th

Arkansas ranked 11th

Louisiana ranked 18th and Kentucky 24th.


(These figures need to be considered along with per capita income where the Delta states generally lag behind, and other factors to give an accurate picture.)

Alabama had the 11th lowest unemployment at 2.6%

Arkansas ranked 25th with 3.3%

Tennessee ranked 27th with 3.3%

Louisiana was 31st at 3.6%

Mississippi was 32nd at 3.6%

Kentucky was 34th at 3.7%

(Missouri was 10th at 2.5%)

IV. States with the Lowest Average Incomes

The ten states with the lowest average incomes are:

  1. Mississippi - $41,776
  2. West Virginia - $44,947
  3. Kentucky - $45,966
  4. New Mexico - $46,325
  5. Alabama - $46,957
  6. Arkansas - $47,274
  7. South Carolina - $47,458
  8. Idaho - $48,591
  9. Oklahoma - $49,078
  10. Arizona - $49,823

In contrast with the highest paying states, these states have lower educational attainment levels, with particularly lower rates of Bachelor degree holders and graduate or professional degree holders. While average incomes are significantly lower in these states, the livable wages are too because of overall lower costs of living.


According to data from the Friends Committee on National Legislation and USDA, six of the 10 hungriest states in America are in the Greater Delta Region.

  1. West Virginia 15.1%
  2. Mississippi 15.0%
  3. Louisiana 14.8%
  4. Oklahoma 14,6%
  5. Alabama 14.0%
  6. Kentucky 13.8%
  7. New Mexico 13.4%
  8. Texas 13.3%
  9. Arkansas 12.6%
  10. Tennessee 12.5%


According to data compiled by US News and World Report, Louisiana has the worst pollution problem of all 50 states. Tennessee and Alabama were in the bottom 10.

• Louisiana ranked dead last. The area between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is often called “cancer alley” due to the high incidences of cancer there.

• Tennessee had the 7th worst pollution.

• Alabama had the 9th worst pollution.

• Mississippi was slightly above average at 28th

• Kentucky was 35th

• Arkansas was 36th


This is the most subjective of the rankings. US News and World Report gave the following explanation of their criteria:

In order to determine rankings, U.S. News & World Report considers a wide range of factors, including healthcare, education, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections, and natural environment. More information on these categories and what is measured in each can be found below:

• Healthcare includes access, quality and affordability of healthcare, as well as health measurements, such as obesity rates and rates of smoking.

• Education measures how well public schools perform in terms of testing and graduation rates, as well as tuition costs associated with higher education and college debt load.

• Economy looks at GDP growth, migration to the state, and new business.

• Infrastructure includes transportation availability, road quality, communications, and internet access.

• Opportunity includes poverty rates, cost of living, housing costs and gender and racial equality.

• Fiscal Stability considers the health of the government’s finances, including how well the state balances its budget.

• Crime and Corrections ranks a state’s public safety and measures prison systems and their populations.

• Natural Environment looks at the quality of air and water and exposure to pollution.


Five heartland Delta states in the bottom 10 regarding US News and World Report Quality of Life rankings:

Louisiana (50th)

Mississippi (49th)

Alabama (46th)

Arkansas (44th)

Kentucky (41st)

Tennessee and Missouri have much smaller Delta areas in their states relative to the state as a whole, and other areas of their state including large urban areas are are substantially different from the heart of the Delta demographically. Tennessee 29th Missouri 28th

USA RANKS LOW IN POVERTY AMONG OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries

National rankings for the USA are disappointingly low among the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries that are democracies with market-based economies—the US rates are at 17.8% as compared to 10.7% for 25 OECD countries.

Where does America rank on poverty? Source: OECD Data, 2019. What the OECD found is that the U.S. rates of poverty are substantially higher and more extreme than those found in the other 25 nations. The overall U.S. rate using this measure stands at 17.8 percent, compared to the 25-country average of 10.7 percent.

The Delta region unfortunately ranks at or near the bottom in poverty rankings within the USA, which ranks substantially below average among other comparable economies.

In the 1960s and 1970s, people in the United States commonly prided themselves on allegedly being the most affluent or one of the most affluent countries in the world, and indeed the economy was stronger then. Some may have found some consolation in the reality that the Delta states may have ranked low, but they were being compared to other states that were well above average in the global rankings; that is no longer true.

Nowadays the USA ranks among the three worst countries in the OECD in poverty levels:

  1. Costa Rica 19.9%

  2. Hungary 17.9%

  3. United States 17.8%

  4. Mexico 16.6%

  5. Greece 12.1%

Not only did countries like Mexico and Greece—that in earlier eras lagged far behind the US—outrank the US in fighting poverty, but 34 of the 37 OECD countries fared better than the US.