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Survey Finds Poverty Rate in Travis County May Be Rising

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

A new report finds the poverty rate in Travis County may be increasing.

First, let's define just what we mean by poverty. By the federal government’s standards, a family of four is living in poverty if they earn $24,036 or less annually.

Here in Travis County, the percentage of people living in poverty had been on the decline in recent years. But a new report from the Community Advancement Network, or CAN, says it appears that number is increasing for the first time since 2010. 

Credit Community Action Network

The report, which examines Census data from the 2014 American Community Survey, says 193,753 residents – aboutone in six – are living in poverty in Travis County.

However, researchers say they don’t have a big enough sample size to explicitly confirm poverty is on the rise – the American Community Survey only samples about 3 percent of the population. 

Korey Darling with Travis County’s Health and Human Services Department says, because of that caveat, the county’s looking at the report with caution.

“It is something as a community we want to be kind of questioning and watching that and saying, ‘Is it a trend? Is poverty increasing?’” Darling says. “That’s not something we want. So, it’s a trend to watch, rather than something we can be completely sure of.”

Raul Alvarez, executive director of CAN, says the group is keeping an eye on the change, especially when it comes to racial disparities.

“The interesting statistic, I think, is when you look at it by race and ethnicity, and you see that the recovery for Hispanics and blacks have not improved as much,” he says.

CAN found that the Hispanic poverty rate is three times that of the white poverty rate in Travis County, while the poverty rate among black Austinites is nearly double. ­­CAN says the overall rate of poverty didn't show a "clear decreasing trend line" compared to previous years, increasing by nearly 17,000 residents over the past year's analysis.

Credit Community Action Network

You can check out the entire survey in the viewer below:

Syeda Hasan is a senior editor at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @syedareports.
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