15 States Where Poverty Is Worse Than You Might Think

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15. Texas
> Supplemental poverty rate: 14.2% (8th highest)
> Official poverty rate: 13.7% (13th highest)
> Cost of living: 3.0% less than national avg. (23rd highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 11.9% (18th highest)
> Median household income: $60,629 (24th highest)

According to the official poverty measure, 13.7% of the Texas population lives in households with incomes below the poverty line. After accounting for factors such as taxes, cost of living, medical costs, and other expenses included in the supplemental poverty measure (SPM), however, that percentage rises to 14.2% — the eighth highest SPM rate of any state.

One factor driving the higher SPM rate in Texas may be the burden of medical expenses incurred by the state’s large uninsured population. Uninsured Americans are often charged higher medical care rates than individuals with health insurance, and they have more difficulty paying their bills. In Texas, some 17.1% of residents do not have health insurance, the highest uninsured rate of any state.

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14. Nevada
> Supplemental poverty rate: 13.5% (14th highest)
> Official poverty rate: 12.2% (19th highest)
> Cost of living: 2.4% less than national avg. (21st highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 11.2% (25th highest)
> Median household income: $58,646 (22nd lowest)

Nevada is one of 15 states in which the poverty rate increases after accounting for taxes, medical costs, and other expenses, as well as anti-poverty subsidies such as SNAP, TANF, and unemployment insurance. After adjusting for these costs and subsidies, the poverty rate in Nevada rises from 12.2% — the 19th highest — to 13.5%, 14th highest.

One factor tied to the high rate of poverty in Nevada may be the low rate of homeownership in the state. Owning a home is one of the most effective ways for low-income families to build long-term wealth and avoid the cycle of poverty. In Nevada, just 56.8% of heads of households own their homes, the third lowest homeownership rate of any state.

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13. Illinois
> Supplemental poverty rate: 12.3% (22nd highest)
> Official poverty rate: 10.9% (23rd lowest)
> Cost of living: 1.5% less than national avg. (18th highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 12.3% (16th highest)
> Median household income: $65,030 (15th highest)

After adjusting for taxes, medical costs, cost of living, and other expenses, the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line in Illinois rises from 10.9% to 12.3%.

A Census Bureau study analyzing the effect of various anti-poverty subsidies determined that Social Security had the greatest effect on keeping people above the federal poverty line, as measured by the supplemental poverty measure. In Illinois, just 29.5% of households receive Social Security income, the 10th smallest share of any state.

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12. Massachusetts
> Supplemental poverty rate: 11.4% (24th lowest)
> Official poverty rate: 9.8% (13th lowest)
> Cost of living: 7.9% more than national avg. (7th highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 11.5% (21st highest)
> Median household income: $79,835 (4th highest)

The typical home in Massachusetts is valued at $400,700, the third highest median home value of any state and $171,000 more than the U.S. figure. On average, goods and services cost 7.9 cents more on the dollar in Massachusetts than they do nationwide, the seventh highest cost of living of any state.

After adjusting for the high cost of living, as well as other expenses such as out-of-pocket medical costs and taxes and government aid programs and subsidies, the percentage of residents living in poverty in Massachusetts rises from 9.8% to 11.4% — an increase of 107,000 people.

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11. Connecticut
> Supplemental poverty rate: 11.6% (24th highest)
> Official poverty rate: 9.8% (13th lowest)
> Cost of living: 8.0% more than national avg. (6th highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 11.2% (25th highest)
> Median household income: $76,348 (5th highest)

After adjusting for expenses such as medical costs and taxes, as well as for anti-poverty subsidies like Social Security and SNAP, the poverty rate in Connecticut rises from 9.8% to 11.6% — an increase of 61,000 people.

Two factors driving the increase may be low benefits recipiency and high cost of living. While the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides grant money to states for food, health care, and nutrition education, just 43.1% of eligible women and children in Connecticut receive WIC benefits, the sixth smallest share of any state. Additionally, goods and services cost 9.8% more in Connecticut than they do nationwide, the sixth highest cost of living of any state.