Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho’s Poverty Rate Higher Than the National Average, Neighboring States

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Idaho’s poverty rate has increased 1.4 percent from 2009 to 2010.  The U.S. Census Bureau released new poverty and income estimates for 2010 today.  The data includes Idaho’s state poverty and income estimates, plus, rates on a county-by-county level and for each school district.

The annual 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.

U.S. Census Bureau

Click on the image to see the interactive Census map

In 2009, the percentage of Idahoans living in poverty was 14.4.  The 2010 estimate shows 15.8 percent of Idahoans are in poverty.  The counties with the highest rates include Lemhi, Owyhee and Madison Counties.  The percent of people living in poverty has steadily increased since 2008, the official start of the latest recession.  That same measure of poverty back in 2007, before the recession, was 12.1 percent.

State labor economist Janell Hyer says the data speaks for itself. Poverty is going up statewide, and in most Idaho counties.  “I don’t know that there is anything alarming about it,” Hyer says, “it just tells us that we are probably not much different than the nation.”  The number of people living in poverty is slightly higher in Idaho than the national average, which is 15.3 percent.

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The Census data show the states with the highest number of people living in poverty are largely in the South.  Mississippi has the highest rate at 22.4 percent. New Mexico is at 19.8 percent and Kentucky is at 18.9 percent.  The states with the smallest number of people living in poverty are concentrated around the East Coast.  New Hampshire is the lowest at 8.6 percent, Maryland at 9.9 percent and Connecticut at 10.1 percent.

U.S. Census Bureau

Click on the image to use the interactive Census map

As for income?  It’s also declining.  The median household income in Idaho in 2010 was $43,259.  In 2007 it was $46,136.  The national average is $50,046.

These statistics are used as one of the criteria to allocate federal funds to local school districts.  In addition, state and local programs use these statistics for distributing funds and managing school programs.


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