Cookeville Listed As 6th Poorest Place In America - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Cookeville Listed As 6th Poorest Place In America

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by Adam Ghassemi

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. People who live in Cookeville say they just know why their city is special, even if it means they had to move away and back again to realize it.

"If somebody would have told me I would have voluntarily come back to Cookeville I would have laughed," said resident Clark Jameson.

Despite its small town appeal and quiet streets, Cookeville has been put in a group that many here aren't proud of. just listed it as the 6th poorest place in America with an average yearly income of $31,813 per year.

Nearly all of the cities on the list are in the Southeast. Lumberton, North Carolina is ranked the poorest with an average income of $28,293 per year.

"I don't see a whole lot of poverty here like I would see in Nashville. I see more poverty there," resident Becky Morrison said.

City Manager Jim Shipley has been here for three decades and has heard Cookeville called the "most economical," "cheapest place to live" or "best place to retire," but never this.

"We just don't consider ourselves a poor community," Shipley said Wednesday.

A spokesperson said they used U.S. Census Bureau data from 2011. It may only list "Cookeville", but it actually represents the Cookeville Micropolitan Statistical Area which includes Putnam, Overton and Jackson counties averaged together.

Critics, like Shipley, say that leaves out one very important factor: cost of living.

"$30,000 a year here equates to a whole lot more money in larger cities. Especially in other parts of the country," he said.

That means people who already know what Cookeville has to offer hope others who have never been here don't over it look it just because of an article.

"Don't believe it. Come to Cookeville and see for yourself," Shipley said. provided the date used for their article, but looking it up yourself won't work right now. The Census Bureau's website is down because of the government shutdown.

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