10 States Where Poverty Is Worse Than You Think

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Reposted from 24/7 Wall Street:

In 1995, a National Academy of Sciences panel made recommendations for how an alternative poverty measure could be developed. Since then, the Census Bureau has worked in partnership with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to further these recommendations. The result was the supplemental poverty measure, which produces state level poverty rates that differ considerably from the official poverty measures. Compared to Mississippi’s official poverty rate of 20.7% between 2011 and 2013, the supplemental poverty rate was more than five percentage points lower during that time. In California, the supplemental poverty rate was 7.4 percentage points higher and, at 23.4%, the highest in the nation. Based on recently released data from the Census Bureau, these are the states where poverty is worse than you think.

Kathleen Short, economist at the Census Bureau and author of its report on the supplemental poverty measure, explained, “The important feature of that measure is that it includes a lot of the non-cash benefits that we have in the United States to help families with low incomes.” Short added that this is useful for policymakers because it allows them “to get a better idea of how effective our safety net is for helping people.” One of the primary differences between the supplemental poverty measure and the official one is housing costs. The supplemental measure is adjusted to reflect local housing costs, whereas the official poverty measure is not. According to Short, this is one of the major factors that can push up poverty rates in many states under the supplemental measure.

In fact, of the 10 states with the highest increases in poverty under the supplemental poverty measure, eight also had among the 10 highest costs of living. Further, in seven of these states, the relative cost of renting an apartment was also among the 10 highest nationally. The two states with the largest increases in poverty under the supplemental measure — California and Hawaii — were also the top two states in terms of the cost of renting a home.

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