Idaho

Bringing the Economy Home

Topics

200346649-001

Measuring Idaho's Poverty Rate

Background

Spencer Grant / Getty Images

Low income and homeless people line up at a Barstow, CA, homeless shelter for free Christmas food distribution.

This page is no longer being updated. For ongoing coverage of this topic, go to Boise State Public Radio’s website.

Idaho’s poverty rate continued its upward climb in 2011, rising to 16.5 percent.  That’s higher than the national rate of people living in poverty, which grew to 15.9 percent last year.

Put another way, more than 255,000 Idahoans lived below the federal poverty guideline last year.

The state’s poverty rate has climbed each year since 2007, when 12.1 percent of state residents lived below the poverty line.  While the rate grew by 1.4 percent from 2008 to 2009 and again from 2009 to 2010, it grew by less than a percentage point from 2010 to 2011. 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

In 2011, the federal poverty guideline was $22,350 for a family of four.  Last year, 7 percent of Idahoans had incomes that amounted to less than 50 percent of the poverty line, according to a Census Bureau report.

The only neighboring state with a higher percentage of people living below the poverty line is Oregon, with a rate of 17.5 percent.

 

The annual poverty estimates are based on a combination of data from the American Community Survey, federal tax information, records on food assistance participation, Census statistics and annual population estimates.

How is Poverty Measured?

The Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. If a family’s total income is less than the family’s threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered in poverty. The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated for inflation using Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). The official poverty definition uses money income before taxes and does not include capital gains or noncash benefits (such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps). – U.S. Census Bureau

Income Used to Compute Poverty Status:

  • Includes earnings, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, public assistance, veterans’ payments, survivor benefits, pension or retirement income, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, income from estates, trusts, educational assistance, alimony, child support, assistance from outside the household, and other miscellaneous sources.
  • Non-cash benefits like food stamps or housing subsidies do not count.
  • Before taxes
  • Excludes capital gains or losses.
  • If a person lives with a family, add up the income of all family members. Non-relatives do not count.

Measure of Need:

Poverty thresholds are the dollar amounts used to determine poverty status.  Each person or family is assigned one out of 48 possible poverty thresholds.

Thresholds vary according to:

  • Size of the family
  • Ages of the members

If the total family income is less than the threshold, the family is in poverty.  If total family income equals or is greater than the threshold, the family is not in poverty.

Latest Posts

Cost Of Living Increases Mean More Idahoans Could Qualify For Food Assistance

Baby_Katerha_Flickr

A change in income guidelines means more Idahoans could qualify for food assistance through the WIC program. The supplemental nutrition program Women, Infants and Children, or WIC provides certain foods to pregnant or breastfeeding moms and families with children under age five. Starting July 1, a cost-of-living adjustment goes into effect. The Idaho Department of [...]

Uninsured Idaho Veterans Affected By Decision Not To Expand Medicaid

Click on the map to enlarge.

Nearly 4,000 uninsured Idaho veterans would be eligible for health insurance if the state expanded Medicaid coverage. That’s according to new analysis from the Urban Institute, reported by Stateline. Idaho isn’t expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income residents, although the governor has said he isn’t ruling it out. As Stateline reports, in states that expand [...]

Census: More Than A Quarter Of Idahoans Who Get Government Benefits Are Disabled

Public Assistance Disability Map CENSUS

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show 28.7 percent of adult Idahoans who receive benefits are also disabled. Nationally, that rate is 30.4 percent. The survey data includes people who are 18 or older and receiving Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [...]

New Report Shows Many Idahoans Don’t Have Adequate Savings

Two in five Idahoans who are “liquid asset poor” wouldn’t be able to pay their bills if they lost their job. The Idaho Statesman reports on a study out today that takes a closer look at Americans’ finances. A report released today by the Corporation for Enterprise Development says 44 percent of Idahoans are on [...]

How Feds’ Rejection Of Partial Medicaid Expansion Affects Idaho

Sen. Dean Cameron

The Obama administration told states Monday they cannot partially expand Medicaid eligibility and receive the federal funds the Affordable Care Act provides to cover the expansion. As the ACA was originally written, people with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for Medicaid.  The U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling on [...]

Will You Be Eligible For A Tax Credit Under The Affordable Care Act?

Taxes_RitaMaas_getty

We published a post last week about the effects of the Affordable Care Act on Idaho’s uninsured. In it, we mentioned that federal tax credits will be available to people purchasing insurance through health insurance exchanges, if their incomes are less than four times the federal poverty level.  For a family of four, 400 percent [...]

How Obamacare Creates An Insurance Industry Ad Blitz

Karen Early is the director of corporate communication for Blue Cross of Idaho, the state's largest insurer.

One of Blue Cross of Idaho’s new television commercials opens with a chirpy jingle.  “You’re protected in the sun, you’re protected when it rains,” the song begins.  The pitch is clear: this is the insurer for you, no matter your lifestyle. For Blue Cross of Idaho, this is more than an advertisement.  It’s a big [...]

Understanding The Number Of Idahoans Who Might Get Insurance Under Obamacare

Medical Stock

State leaders have yet to determine whether Idaho will establish a state-based health insurance exchange or expand Medicaid eligibility.  But there is quite a lot we do know about the likely effects of the federal health care law in Idaho. About 46 percent of Idahoans get insurance through their employers, but that’s not the part [...]

Understanding Idahoans’ Economic Health

Money Tree Economic Health

Over the last week, we’ve used new data from the U.S. Census Bureau to check some of Idaho’s vital signs.  We’ve looked at change in median income, the poverty rate, and food stamp use, as well as what Idahoans do for work. What emerges is a picture of struggle in the state.  Median household income [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education