In some depressing but entirely unsurprising news released this week, the United States Census Bureau tells us that poverty in the U.S. is a growing problem.
According to the Census' annual poverty report, 15.1 percent of U.S. residents were living at or below the poverty line in 2010, up 1.2 percent from 2009 and a 17-year high. We had about two days to absorb that news before media started trotting out the state rankings, providing much needed (rhetorical) fodder (not actual food, of course) for those politicians whose constituents live in merely abject poverty, as opposed to hopeless starvation.
(Rankings after the jump)
Speaking of which, Louisiana is better off than Mississippi. Only 958,000, or 21.6 percent of Louisiana's 4.4 million residents were living in poverty as of 2010, making it the second poorest state behind Mississippi, where 22.7 percent were poor. Conclusion: Someone must be doing something right up in Baton Rouge.
Even more encouraging, our state might also be better than economic powerhouses Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to an analysis of the Census report by 24/7 Wall St. The financial news site combined four categories from the report — poverty rate, median income, percentage of the population without health insurance and unemployment rate — and ranked Louisiana number five. Please note: Some of the numbers here are, oddly, a bit different than the ones that appear in the 2010 Census report, but its analysis has nevertheless been widely reported elsewhere, so (1) it behooves us, as an Internet news provider, to jump onto this well-established bandwagon, and (2) it makes Louisiana look somewhat better. Here's 24/7 Wall St. on Louisiana:
> Median income: $41,896
> Poverty rate: 18% (4th highest)
> Without health insurance: 18% (11th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.6% (17th lowest)
Nearly one in five people in Louisiana lives in a state of poverty. This is the fourth-worst rate in the country. A full 18% of residents are without health insurance, and median income is the fifth-lowest in the country. The after effects of Hurricane Katrina and, to a lesser extent, the Gulf oil spill, have hurt tourism and job opportunities in the region. In an effort to stimulate the state economy, Governor Bobby Jindal has proposed the construction of a new gas-to-liquids facility, which is expected to create more than 5,000 jobs: “We’re here to make an announcement that could result in Louisiana’s largest economic development project in our state’s entire history.”