15 States Where Poverty Is Worse Than You Might Think

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5. Florida
> Supplemental poverty rate: 16.2% (3rd highest)
> Official poverty rate: 13.6% (14th highest)
> Cost of living: 0.1% less than national avg. (15th highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 13.8% (8th highest)
> Median household income: $55,462 (14th lowest)

According to the official poverty measure, 13.6% of Florida residents live in households with income below the poverty threshold. After accounting for factors like taxes, cost of living, and other expenses included in the supplemental poverty measure, however, the percentage of residents living in poverty rises to 16.2% — the third highest SPM rate of any state.

One expense contributing to the high SPM rate in Florida may be the medical costs incurred by the state’s large uninsured population. Uninsured Americans are often subject to higher medical care rates than individuals with health insurance, and it is more difficult for them to pay their bills. In Florida, some 13.0% of residents do not have health insurance, the fourth highest uninsured rate of any state.

4. Hawaii
> Supplemental poverty rate: 13.7% (13th highest)
> Official poverty rate: 9.5% (9th lowest)
> Cost of living: 18.5% more than national avg. (the highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 10.0% (19th lowest)
> Median household income: $80,212 (3rd highest)

Under the official rate, 9.5% of Hawaii residents are considered to be living below the poverty line, less than the 12.3% national poverty rate. After adjusting for medical costs, taxes, and other expenses, however, the percentage rises to 13.7% — more than the 13.1% national supplemental poverty measure rate.

The SPM takes into account geographic variations in housing costs to better understand how many individuals are struggling financially in a given area. Hawaii has the most expensive housing in the country, with the typical home valued at $631,700 — nearly three times the U.S. median home value of $229,700. Goods and services cost 18.5% more in Hawaii than they do nationwide, the highest cost of living of any state.

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3. New Jersey
> Supplemental poverty rate: 14.0% (9th highest)
> Official poverty rate: 9.1% (6th lowest)
> Cost of living: 12.9% more than national avg. (4th highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 8.2% (10th lowest)
> Median household income: $81,740 (2nd highest)

After adjusting for medical costs, work expenses, taxes, and other factors included in the supplemental poverty measure, the percentage of New Jersey residents considered living below the poverty line rises from 9.1% — the sixth lowest poverty rate of any state — to 14.0%, the ninth highest supplemental poverty rate.

One factor accounting for the large spike may be the high cost of living in New Jersey. Goods and services cost 12.9% more in New Jersey than they do nationwide, the fourth highest markup of any state. Despite the high cost of living, the average SNAP benefit payout is just $114 per household member per month, the ninth lowest amount. Just 74.0% of eligible individuals receive SNAP, also the ninth smallest such figure.

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2. Maryland
> Supplemental poverty rate: 12.4% (21st highest)
> Official poverty rate: 7.2% (2nd lowest)
> Cost of living: 9.4% more than national avg. (5th highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 9.4% (16th lowest)
> Median household income: $83,242 (the highest)

The typical home in Maryland is worth $324,800, the ninth highest median home value of any state and nearly $100,000 more than the U.S. figure. On average, goods and services cost 9.4% more in Maryland than they do nationwide, the fifth 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, the share of residents living in poverty in Maryland increases from 7.2% — the second smallest share of any state — to 12.4%, the 21st largest share.

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1. California
> Supplemental poverty rate: 18.1% (the highest)
> Official poverty rate: 12.5% (18th highest)
> Cost of living: 14.8% more than national avg. (3rd highest)
> SNAP recipiency: 8.5% (12th lowest)
> Median household income: $75,277 (6th highest)

Under the official rate, 12.5% of California residents are considered to be living below the poverty line, roughly in line with the 12.3% national poverty rate. After adjusting for medical costs, taxes, and other expenses as well as government aid programs and subsidies, however, the percentage rises to 18.1% — the highest supplemental poverty measure rate of any state and the highest gap between the two measures.

A Census Bureau study analyzing the impact of various anti-poverty subsidies determined that Social Security and SNAP have the largest and third largest effect of any program on keeping individuals above the federal poverty line. In California, however, just 27.9% of eligible households receive Social Security benefits, the sixth smallest share of any state. Similarly, just 70.0% of eligible individuals receive SNAP benefits, also the sixth smallest share.