Magazine article Economic Trends

U.S. and Fourth District Poverty Rates

Magazine article Economic Trends

U.S. and Fourth District Poverty Rates

Article excerpt

The poverty rate is the percentage of people whose family income falls below an officially determined threshold, which varies by family size and composition. After dropping nearly 4% from 1993 to 2000, the U.S. poverty rate has been trending steadily up. Poverty rates in the Fourth District and its metropolitan areas have also increased, but specifics on many areas remain unknown. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau enable us to pinpoint the performance of individual counties within the District.

With the exception of the Cincinnati and Lexington areas, poverty, rates in eastern Kentucky were strikingly high in 1995, averaging about 28%. Though somewhat better, southeast Ohio counties' poverty rates still exceeded the national average. In contrast, northwest Ohio, along with areas near Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, posted poverty rates that were roughly half the U.S. average.

By 2003, poverty in some District areas had lessened. The District's part of Kentucky, for example, showed substantial improvement in the counties that were formerly its poorest. Rates also fell significantly in southeast Ohio counties, where rates that previously exceeded the nation's dropped to--or below--it.

Nevertheless, the pictures from 1995 and 2003 look remarkably similar, hiding much of the underlying movement during this period. Between 1995 and 2000, the U.S. poverty rate fell 2.5%, and many Fourth District counties enjoyed similar improvements; rates fell in all but eight counties, and did not increase more than 1% in any. …

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