//Poverty declined in most states in 2017

Poverty declined in most states in 2017

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Poverty declined in most states in 2017

The American Community Survey (ACS) data released today shows that the decline in the national poverty rate was felt in nearly every state. The poverty rate decreased in 42 states and the District of Columbia, with 20 of those states experiencing statistically significant declines. While there were slight increases in the poverty rate in seven states, the only statistically significant increases occurred in Delaware and West Virginia. These widespread declines are certainly good news, though most states have still not recovered to their pre-great-recession poverty rates and 40 states had higher poverty rates in 2017 than in 2000, when the economy was closer to full employment.

The national poverty rate, as measured by the ACS, fell 0.6 percentage points to 13.4 percent. This is 0.4 percentage points above the ACS poverty rate for the country in 2007, and 1.2 percentage points above the rate from 2000.

Between 2016 and 2017, the District of Columbia saw the largest decline in its poverty rate (-2.0 percentage points), followed by Idaho (-1.6 percentage points), Arizona (-1.5 percentage points), Maine (-1.4 percentage points), Kentucky (-1.3 percentage points), and Rhode Island (-1.2 percentage points). There were increases in poverty in Delaware (1.9 percentage points), West Virginia (1.2 percentage points), Alaska (1.2 percentage points), New Hampshire (0.4 percentage point), Hawaii (0.2 percentage point), South Carolina (0.1 percentage point), and Massachusetts (0.1 percentage point). In Wyoming, the rate remained essentially unchanged between 2016 and 2017.

Income growth at the national level and an increase in the number of jobs pulling workers off the sidelines accounted for a drop in the poverty rate in many states. While the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25, many states and localities have increased their minimum wages, which helps lift workers out of poverty. At the same time, government programs including Social Security, refundable tax credits, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are directly responsible for keeping tens of millions out of poverty across the country. A significant drop in the poverty rate for the second year in a row is a positive sign, but lawmakers should be careful to protect these recent gains with policies that raise wages for working families.

Poverty rate by state, 2017

State Change in poverty rate, 2000 to 2017 Change 2007 to 2017 Change in poverty rate, 2016 to 2017 2017 poverty rate relative to national average Poverty rate, 2017
Alabama 1.3% 0.0% -0.2% 3.5% 16.9%
Alaska 2.0% 2.2% 1.2% -2.3% 11.1%
Arizona -0.7% 0.7% -1.5% 1.5% 14.9%
Arkansas -0.6% -1.5% -0.8% 3.0% 16.4%
California -0.4% 0.9% -1.0% -0.1% 13.3%
Colorado 1.6% -1.7% -0.7% -3.1% 10.3%
Connecticut 1.9% 1.7% -0.2% -3.8% 9.6%
Delaware 4.3% 3.1% 1.9% 0.2% 13.6%
Florida 1.2% 1.9% -0.7% 0.6% 14.0%
Georgia 2.3% 0.6% -1.1% 1.5% 14.9%
Hawaii 0.7% 1.5% 0.2% -3.9% 9.5%
Idaho 1.4% 0.7% -1.6% -0.6% 12.8%
Illinois 1.5% 0.7% -0.4% -0.8% 12.6%
Indiana 3.4% 1.2% -0.6% 0.1% 13.5%
Iowa 0.7% -0.3% -1.1% -2.7% 10.7%
Kansas 2.4% 0.7% -0.2% -1.5% 11.9%
Kentucky 0.8% -0.1% -1.3% 3.8% 17.2%
Louisiana -0.3% 1.1% -0.5% 6.3% 19.7%
Maine 1.0% -0.9% -1.4% -2.3% 11.1%
Maryland 0.0% 1.0% -0.4% -4.1% 9.3%
Massachusetts 0.9% 0.6% 0.1% -2.9% 10.5%
Michigan 4.1% 0.2% -0.8% 0.8% 14.2%
Minnesota 2.6% 0.0% -0.4% -3.9% 9.5%
Mississippi 1.6% -0.8% -1.0% 6.4% 19.8%
Missouri 2.2% 0.4% -0.6% 0.0% 13.4%
Montana -0.9% -1.6% -0.8% -0.9% 12.5%
Nebraska 1.2% -0.4% -0.6% -2.6% 10.8%
Nevada 3.1% 2.3% -0.8% -0.4% 13.0%
New Hampshire 2.4% 0.6% 0.4% -5.7% 7.7%
New Jersey 2.1% 1.4% -0.4% -3.4% 10.0%
New Mexico 1.7% 1.6% -0.1% 6.3% 19.7%
New York 1.0% 0.4% -0.6% 0.7% 14.1%
North Carolina 1.6% 0.4% -0.7% 1.3% 14.7%
North Dakota -1.3% -1.8% -0.4% -3.1% 10.3%
Ohio 2.9% 0.9% -0.6% 0.6% 14.0%
Oklahoma 2.0% -0.1% -0.5% 2.4% 15.8%
Oregon 0.0% 0.3% -0.1% -0.2% 13.2%
Pennsylvania 2.0% 0.9% -0.4% -0.9% 12.5%
Rhode Island 0.9% -0.4% -1.2% -1.8% 11.6%
South Carolina 1.0% 0.4% 0.1% 2.0% 15.4%
South Dakota 1.5% -0.1% -0.3% -0.4% 13.0%
Tennessee 1.5% -0.9% -0.8% 1.6% 15.0%
Texas -0.4% -1.6% -0.9% 1.3% 14.7%
Utah 0.9% 0.0% -0.5% -3.7% 9.7%
Vermont 0.6% 1.2% -0.6% -2.1% 11.3%
Virginia 1.4% 0.7% -0.4% -2.8% 10.6%
Washington -0.6% -0.4% -0.3% -2.4% 11.0%
DC -0.9% 0.2% -2.0% 3.2% 16.6%
West Virginia 0.5% 2.2% 1.2% 5.7% 19.1%
Wisconsin 2.4% 0.5% -0.5% -2.1% 11.3%
Wyoming -0.1% 2.6% 0.0% -2.1% 11.3%
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Source: EPI Analysis of American Community Survey data

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