As of 2015, 13.5% of Americans live in poverty. That’s 43 million people, most of whom require some for of public assistance to survive.
Most of these families are single-parent, headed by a female. Poverty exists in all areas of the US, but tends to be clustered in rural areas and in small to medium metro areas.
The seven states with the highest proportion of residents living in poverty (based on income, 2015 data) are
- Mississippi, 22.1%
- New Mexico, 19.8%
- Louisiana, 19.5%
- Arkansas, 18.7%
- Alabama, 18.5%
- Kentucky, 18.3%
- West Virginia, 18.0%
Rural areas have problems, only partly offset by lower costs of living. For example, in Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota, 44.2% of residents are in poverty. In Yazoo County, Mississippi, it’s 34.2%.
The standard metropolitan areas with the highest rates of poverty are
- Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas, 32.4%
- Laredo, Texas, 32.3%
- McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, 31.5%
- Visalia-Porterville, California, 27.6%
- Las Cruces, New Mexico, 27.1%
- Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, 27.1%
- Greenville, North Carolina, 26.8%
- Merced, California, 26.7%
- Valdosta, Georgia, 26.6%
- Pine Bluff, Arkansas, 25.7%
- Pocatello, Idaho, 25.3%
- Fresno, California, 25.3%
- El Centro, California, 25.1%
Yes, the three worst are all in Texas. Yes, these are all areas where every fourth person lives in poverty.
Poverty is concentrated in states that have relatively low spending on social programs and whose voters consistently vote against government spending.
That’s particularly amusing since the states most dependent on Federal spending are
- Mississippi (42.9% of state revenue in 2013, highest in the US)
- New Mexico
The states least depending on Federal spending are
- New Jersey
Basically, blue states subsidize red states. That awareness may have added to the anger over the most recent election results.
Happy New Year. 2017 should be “interesting.”