The Inside Scoop Online is an internet source of information, news, and commentary on a wide variety of national, state, and local topics serving the Delta region based in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas.
The number of Americans living in poverty has been on the rise since the onset of the Great Recession, as many households have seen their incomes drop and their debts mount during the past few years.
More than 15% of the population lived in poverty in 2010, the highest percentage since 1993, according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau. That means more than 46 million people fell below the poverty line, defined as $22,314 for a family of four. If you factor in the income spent on expenses such as medical costs, child care and mortgage payments, the number of Americans whose remaining income falls below the poverty line is closer to 50 million, or roughly 16% of the population.
Some regions in the U.S. are much worse off. In November, the Census Bureau released the poverty rates of every county in the U.S. in 2010. The data showed that in dozens of counties, more than a third of the population lives in poverty, and in a handful, overall poverty rates were closer to 50%.
MainStreet combed through the data to find the county in each state with the highest overall poverty rate. For those results, click through the following slides, listed alphabetically by state.
Lee county has seen a steep population decline of 17.1% from 2000 to 2010, despite the fact that Arkansas as a whole has seen a population increasein that time period. The county borders the Mississippi River on the east side of the state and has a total population just over 10,000.
Poverty Rate: 37.5%
Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 46.1%
Median Household Income: $25,944
The Poorest County in Mississippi: Issaquena
Issaquena County jumped up one spot on the list even though its poverty rate improved by two percentage points compared to last year. The county has one of the highest poverty rates for kids in the U.S. and has the second highest poverty rate of the counties on this list.
Poverty Rate: 43.3%
Poverty Rate of Kids Under 18: 60.1%
The Poorest County in Tennessee: Lake
Lake County is a small area with roughly 2,100 citizens living in poverty. Close to the Missouri border, this county has actually seen its poverty rate decline since 2009, when it was at 42.5%. Also, the cost of living in Lake County is relatively low, with the median value of owner-occupied housing units at $65,400 – about half of the median value of owner-occupied housing units for the state of Tennessee.