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 has dropped, while the poverty rate and food stamp use have climbed year after year since 2007.
All of these numbers come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey. The results were released last week.
It’s a comprehensive set of data, and we’ve by no means covered it all. For example, we haven’t graphed the percent of Idahoan’s without health insurance. That rate fell from a recent high of 17.7 percent in 2010 to 16.5 percent in 2011. However, that decrease appears to have come about because more people enrolled in public health care programs, the Idaho Department of Labor reports.
The fraction of Idahoans who receive health care through a publicly funded program rose to 28.5 percent in 2011. That’s up from 26.9 percent in 2010.
These graphs are grim, but we can make a positive observation: the poverty rate and the rate of food stamp use did not go up as quickly in 2011 as they did from 2008 to 2010, during the depths of the recession.
Moreover, it’s worth remembering these numbers are from the 2011 calendar year. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that national growth in food stamp enrollment appeared to have ended as of April of this year.