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Lee County is kinda/sorta a difficult place to live in, according to an article by the New York Times listing the “hardest places to live” in the United States by county.

Lee County ranks 1,863rd out of the country’s 3,135 counties. The rankings are based on several factors, but mostly median household income, college education, unemployment rate, disability rate, obesity rate and average life expectancy. Neighboring Harnett County ranks 2,163rd (behind Lee County), while Chatham (231st) and Moore (701st) each crack the top 25% of the nation’s “easiest” places to live.

According to the Times, Lee County’s median income is $45,284, while 20 percent of its residents are listed as having a college education. The life expectancy here is 76.2 years (a few months better than Harnett!), while the obesity rate is a whopping 38 percent.

The worst county in North Carolina is Halifax, which ranks 3,089th; while Orange County (93rd) is the best. From the New York Times:

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.

At the other end of the scale, the different variations on our formula consistently yielded the same result. Six of the top 10 counties in the United States are in the suburbs of Washington (especially on the Virginia side of the Potomac River), but the top ranking of all goes to Los Alamos County, N.M., home of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which does much of the scientific work underpinning the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The lab directly employs one out of every five county residents and has a budget of $2.1 billion; only a fraction of that is spent within the county, but that’s still an enormous economic engine for a county of just 18,000 people.

Numbers are listed below. What do you think? Lee County’s ranking seem about right to you?


Lee County
Overall: 1,863 of 3,135
Median Income: $45,284
College Education: 20%
Unemployment: 11.8%
Disability: 1.2%
Life Expectancy: 76.2 years
Obesity: 38%

Harnett County
Overall: 2,163 of 3,135
Median Income: $44,242
College Education: 17.6%
Unemployment: 10.8%
Disability: 1.4%
Life Expectancy: 76 years
Obesity: 40%

Moore County
Overall: 701 of 3,135
Median Income: $48, 238
College Education: 30.4%
Unemployment: 8.8%
Disability: 0.9%
Life Expectancy: 79 years
Obesity: 34%

Chatham County
Overall: 231 of 3,135
Median Income: $57,793
College Education: 36.7%
Unemployment: 7.4%
Disability: 0.6%
Life Expectancy: 79.8 years
Obesity: 34%

Wake County
Overall: 163 of 3,135
Median Income: $65,826
College Education: 47.6%
Unemployment: 7.5%
Disability: 0.7%
Life Expectancy: 80.6 years
Obesity: 32%


Best in United States
Los Alamos, N.M.
Overall: 1 of 3,135
Median Income: $106,426
College Education: 63.2%
Unemployment: 3.5%
Disability: 0.3%
Life Expectancy: 82.4 years
Obesity: 23%

Worst in United States
Clay County, Ky.
Overall: 3,135 of 3,135
Median Income: $22,296
College Education: 7,4%
Unemployment: 12.7%
Disability: 11.7%
Life Expectancy: 71.4 years
Obesity: 45%

Best in North Carolina
Orange County
Overall: 93 of 3,135
Median Income: $55,241
College Education: 55.2%
Unemployment: 6.2%
Disability: 0.7%
Life Expectancy: 80.2 years
Obesity: 24%

Worst in North Carolina
Halifax County
Overall: 3,089 of 3,135
Median Income: $31,614
College Education: 11.7%
Unemployment: 13.2%
Disability: 3.7%
Life Expectancy: 74.1 years
Obesity: 49%

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