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Fewer Texans Living in Poverty, According to New Census Data

Joe Diaz/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
San Antonio's poverty rates dropped between 2014 and 2015.

From Texas Standard:

The United States Census Bureau dropped new data this week, as part of the American Community Survey, a yearly estimate of a plethora of different topics concerning American households, including numbers on healthcare, income, and poverty.


According to the census, one in four kids in Texas lives in poverty. The metro areas in south Texas have the highest rates of poverty in the state: 32 percent of households live in poverty in the Brownsville/Harlingen area and in Laredo. In McAllen, 31 percent of households live in poverty. But the picture changes when you move further north. The percentage of people living in poverty in Texas as a whole has declined from 2014 to 2015, dropping from 17.2 percent to 15.9 percent. That means 268,196 fewer Texans are living below the federal poverty line. In 2015, the poverty line was $28,410 a year.

Lloyd Potter, the state demographer, says the decline of people living in poverty in San Antonio stood out the most for him.

"Essentially this was a good news report in terms of income and poverty,” Potter says. “Both in Texas and nationally, we're seeing increases in income it's starkly different from what we'd seen in previous years."

Household income in Texas went up 4.8 percentage points from 2014 to 2015. Houston also had a decline in the percentange of people living in poverty, but Potter says San Antonio’s decline put it on par with Houston’s poverty rates this year, an interesting drop since San Antonio’s rates were much higher than Houston's last year.

The report also exposes income inequality in Texas, which Potter says in is the upper tier of states with high rates of income inequality.

"If you look geographically in the state – certainly if you look to the lower Rio Grande Valley in Laredo – that's where you see high rates of poverty, low rates of income, high rates of uninsured,” Potter says. “Then you can go to almost any urbanized or metro area and you can find pockets that are similar to that. … So you have pretty significant number of people that are ‘haves’ – meaning fairly wealthy – and a significant number of people that are ‘have nots,’ and then increasingly fewer and fewer people in the middle."

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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