States Where Poverty Is Worse Than You Think

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3. Maryland
> Supplemental poverty rate: 13.5% (22nd highest)
> Official poverty rate: 8.9% (3rd lowest)
> Cost of living: 9.6% more than national avg. (5th highest)
> Uninsured rate: 6.1% (18th lowest)

The typical household in Maryland earns nearly $79,000 a year, the highest median income of any state. As is often the case in high income areas, Maryland’s 8.9% official poverty rate is far lower than the nationwide rate and nearly the lowest of any state. However, also similar to other wealthy areas, Maryland has a high cost of living. Goods and services in the state are nearly 10% more expensive than they are nationwide, on average. Unlike the supplemental poverty rate, the official poverty rate does not account for variances in cost of living within the continental United States. Due in part to the high cost of living, over a quarter million of Maryland residents are effectively living in poverty and are not included in the state’s official poverty rate. The discrepancy between the state’s official and supplemental poverty rates is third largest.

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2. New Jersey
> Supplemental poverty rate: 15.3% (9th highest)
> Official poverty rate: 10.7% (13th lowest)
> Cost of living: 13.4% more than national avg. (3rd highest)
> Uninsured rate: 8.0% (25th highest)

While the official poverty rate considers only income levels, the supplemental rate take into account taxes. New Jersey’s relatively high taxes partially contribute to more residents facing serious financial hardship than the official rate implies. Some 15.3% of Garden State residents live in poverty according to the supplemental rate, nearly 5 percentage points above the official rate of just 10.7%. The median monthly housing costs for New Jersey homeowners with a mortgage is $2,343, the highest in the country. The nation-leading housing costs are driven in large part by high taxes, as homeowners with a mortgage in the state pay the most per year in real estate taxes among states, and over three times more than the average nationwide.

Pushed up in part by housing costs, the cost of living in New Jersey is nearly the highest of any state. Goods and services in New Jersey are 13.4% more expensive than they are nationwide on average. Accounting for factors such as taxes and cost of living, some 416,000 New Jersey residents live in poverty and are not included in the official poverty rate.

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1. California
> Supplemental poverty rate: 20.4% (the highest)
> Official poverty rate: 14.5% (16th highest)
> Cost of living: 13.4% more than national avg. (3rd highest)
> Uninsured rate: 7.3% (22nd lowest)

An estimated 2.3 million Californians live in poverty and are not counted in the state’s official poverty rate. When accounting for taxes, out-of-pocket medical costs, and overall cost of living, California’s poverty rate climbs from 14.5%, which is only slightly higher than average, to 20.4%, which is the highest supplemental poverty rate of any state.

A dearth of jobs compounded by a high cost of living are partially to blame. Housing costs are 47% higher in California than they are on average nationwide, and the overall cost of living in the state is 13% higher than it is on average nationwide. Meanwhile, some 5.1% of California’s workforce are out of a job, the sixth highest unemployment rate among states and well above the 4.2% U.S. unemployment rate.