Southern Living Isn’t Easy: The South Sees Major Increase In Poverty

July 3, 2014  |  

Other parts of the country may be on the rebound from the recession. But don’t count the South in that group. Even today, the South is poorer than the rest of the nation, according to new findings.

North Carolina and a number of other Southern U.S. states had the biggest increases in the number of people living in “poverty areas” between 2000 and 2010, according to a just released Census Bureau report. “Poverty areas are places where more than 20 percent of the people live below the federal poverty line, which varies by family size. For a family of four, the poverty line in most states is an annual income of $23,850,” reports The Huffington Post.

And the number of poor Americans is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, some 25.7 percent of all Americans live in poverty-stricken areas.  This is a major increase from 18.1 percent in 2000, found the report. Lack of money is not they only thing that affects these areas; poverty areas most commonly have “higher crime rates, poor housing conditions, and fewer job opportunities,” states the report. And majority of these poverty areas are located in the South.

Five of the six biggest states to see an increase in poverty areas were in the South. Southern states typically trail behind the rest of the country in things like wages, economic mobility and access to health care, and take the lead in poverty, obesity and general unhappiness. “Another thing Southern states have in common is Republican political leaders that have spent the past decade shrinking the social safety net,” reports HuffPo.

There are two Southern states–Louisiana and West Virginia–who did not follow the downward trend. These states saw the number of people living in poverty decrease during the decade.

But the region that saw the largest overall rise in the number of people living in poverty areas between 2000 and 2010 was actually the Midwest, not the South. That may, however, be attributed to the fact that the Midwest had relatively low numbers to begin with while the South began with extremely high rates of people living in poverty-stricken areas.

Oftentimes, when we think about poverty, our minds go to third-world countries, when in fact it’s right here as well. It’s an issue that requires our attention and the services and investment to combat.

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