Economy

New Poverty Data Shows Rate in This State Is Nearly 20% and Here's the Rate in All 50

The new U.S. Census data on poverty and household income was just released. While the official poverty rate was 10.5% last year, the level varies sharply from state to state. In Mississippi, the figure is 19.1%, or 82% higher than the national average. State figures are based on an average of three years, so the 82% increase is not entirely accurate. However, even with adjustments, the number is grim.


The official poverty rate has been questioned, although that does not make the Mississippi number less troubling. The Census Bureau also issues a Supplementary Poverty Measure, which shows a national rate of 11.7%. The difference between 10.5% and 11.7% is programs that “lift” people above the poverty level. They are primarily tax credits and Social Security.

The poverty rate measurement for states averages three years (2017, 2018, 2019) to get a statistically stable set of numbers. Based on this measure, the national poverty rate is 11.5%. The Mississippi figure should be measured against that number. That puts the figure for the southern state 66% above the total. The widest contrast with any other state is that between Mississippi and New Hampshire, where the poverty rate is 5.6%.

These are the official poverty rates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, based on the 2017, 2018 and 2019 weighting measure.

Location People in Poverty (thousands) Rate
United States 37,316 11.5
Alabama 715 14.7
Alaska 84 11.8
Arizona 870 12.1
Arkansas 437 15.0
California 4,482 11.4
Colorado 516 9.1
Connecticut 338 9.7
Delaware 74 7.6
District of Columbia 96 1.1
Florida 2,725 12.9
Georgia 1,383 13.3
Hawaii 131 9.4
Idaho 177 10.0
Illinois 1,302 10.4
Indiana 738 11.2
Iowa 269 8.7
Kansas 297 10.4
Kentucky 629 14.2
Louisiana 869 19.1
Maine 152 11.4
Maryland 458 7.6
Massachusetts 629 9.2
Michigan 1,059 10.7
Minnesota 419 7.4
Mississippi 559 19.1
Missouri 667 11.1
Montana 106 10.1
Nebraska 193 10.2
Nevada 369 12.1
New Hampshire 76 5.6
New Jersey 24 8.2
New Mexico 353 17.2
New York 2,348 12.1
North Carolina 1,418 13.6
North Dakota 75 10.1
Ohio 1,423 12.4
Oklahoma 478 12.4
Oregon 412 9.8
Pennsylvania 1,321 10.5
Rhode Island 102 9.8
South Carolina 727 14.4
South Dakota 91 10.6
Tennessee 813 12.1
Texas 3,601 12.7
Utah 243 7.6
Vermont 55 1.1
Virginia 809 9.7
Washington 661 8.8
West Virginia 277 15.6
Wisconsin 506 8.7
Wyoming 59 10.5