Posts Tagged ‘census’

Press Release: More Than One-Third of Alabamians Live in Concentrated Poverty Areas

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014


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For Immediate Release:                                            Contact: Kristina Scott
July 2, 2014                                                                                205-939-1408

More Than One-Third of Alabamians Live in Concentrated Poverty Areas

BIRMINGHAM —More than one-third of Alabamians live in concentrated “poverty areas”, according to research this week released by the Census Bureau. Poverty areas are census tracts which have a 20 percent poverty or higher.

Alabama is the nation’s seventh poorest state, and 19 percent, or nearly 900,000 Alabamians, live below the federal poverty line. More than 60 percent of those individuals live in poverty-dense census tracts.

“Being poor in a poor neighborhood means that residents have costs and limitations above and beyond those faced by any one individual or family,” said Alabama Possible Executive Director Kristina Scott. “Concentrated poverty is linked with reduced educational and employment opportunities, higher crime rates, poor health outcomes, and hindered asset building. In today’s interconnected society, that negatively impacts all of us.”

Alabama has become increasingly economically homogenous over the past two decades. In 2000, 25 percent of Alabamians lived in poverty areas, and the percent of poor people who live in poverty areas was 50 percent.

Whites saw the largest percentage point increase amongst racial or ethnic groups living in poverty areas regardless of income, from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent in 2010. African Americans continue to be most likely to live in poverty areas regardless of income, with 50 percent of all individuals living in poverty areas.

Concentrated poverty is also increasingly suburban or rural. While in 2000, 58 percent of people living in “poverty areas” lived in central city census tracts, in 2010 nearly half of the nation’s population living in “poverty areas” reside in suburban and rural areas.

“The changing nature of concentrated poverty challenges our perceptions. It also makes it more challenging to reverse. The needs of rural and urban communities are very different, and it is more difficult to build and sustain the responsive economic base necessary for recovery,” said Scott.

The full Census Bureau report, Changes in Areas with Concentrated Poverty: 2000 to 2010, is available online.

Additional data about poverty in Alabama is available at

Alabama Possible is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing systematic poverty and its root cause across Alabama. AP educates Alabamians about poverty, collaborates with colleges and faith-based institutions on poverty-reduction activities and advocates for fact-based policy decisions. AP was founded in 1993 and is based in Birmingham, Al. For more information visit 



Poverty Rate in Alabama Remains Unchanged, Seventh Highest in US

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

F6_MP_2012New statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau find that the number of people living in poverty in the State of Alabama remained virtually unchanged last year, but according to a new analysis by Alabama Possible, the 2012 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) tell a mixed story about poverty and median household income in the state.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines the official poverty threshold for a family of four containing two related children under the age of 18 as $23,283. The new SAIPE results, which were released on Thursday, December 12, find that Alabama is the seventh poorest state in the country with a statewide poverty rate of 19 percent; virtually unchanged from 19.1 percent in 2011.

However, Alabama Possible notes that when compared to the 2007 survey, poverty in the state remains well above pre-recession levels (16.6 percent). During the same 5-year time period, poverty increased in 56 of Alabama’s 67 counties. The increase was statistically significant in 19 counties, according to Census Bureau analysis. Five counties – Conecuh, Dallas, Marengo, Tallapoosa, and Winston – saw increases of more than 5 percent.

Alternatively, the median household income in Alabama grew during the same period. In 2012, Alabama’s median household income was $41,610, or $1,014 more than it was in 2007. At the county level, 42 counties saw increases in median household income from 2007 to 2012. The biggest increase was in Coffee County, which saw an $8,812 increase from $36,819 in 2007 to $45,631 in 2012. Of the 25 counties that experienced decreases in median household income, Talladega County had by far the largest, from $38,644 in 2007 to $34,785, or a decrease of $3,859.

“While it is disappointing that our poverty rate continues to be one of the highest in the nation, the increase in median household income may be a sign that more families are moving from meeting their basic needs to being economically secure,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of Alabama Possible. “Alabama has been working hard to increase career jobs and boost educational attainment. In particular, investments in education can take years, if not decades, to pay off in reduced poverty rates. However, they are crucial to ensure that our state can and will meet its tremendous potential.”

The Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) combine data from administrative records, postcensal population estimates, and the decennial census with direct estimates from the American Community Survey to provide consistent and reliable single-year poverty estimates.

A complete chart of poverty rates, child poverty rates, and median household income in Alabama can be found at

To view SAIPE maps prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau, please visit:


Alabama is fat and hungry? Yes, it is.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

On Saturday September 22, the Wetumpka Herald posted a column from Managing Editor Peggy Blackburn with the headline “Alabama is Fat and Hungry?” Here’s an excerpt:

One report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ranks Alabama as fourth in adult obesity rate at 32 percent of the population.

That seems like a reasonable estimate, especially given the charts used in determining if a person’s weight is under, over or in the normal range. I know some muscular folks the charts actually gauge as overweight.

Contrarily, a report published by the Food Research and Action Center said 23.4 percent of the state’s residents reported that they couldn’t afford enough food for their families and also reported going hungry. That is the second highest percentage in the country.

It is difficult for me to reconcile the state being the fourth most obese while at the same time being the second hungriest.

The categories are so specific it seems unlikely any of the people in one group could qualify for the other. If the respondents are all different, that would mean only 45 percent of Alabamians are neither overeating nor starving.

I don’t say it’s impossible, but it seems odd.

Although we applaud the managing editor’s efforts to educate herself about obesity and poverty in Alabama, we felt her article mischaracterized the data. We sent this letter in response:

Dear Ms. Blackburn:

This email is in response to your column “Alabama is fat and hungry?” which was posted on Saturday.

Today it is quite common to be both hungry and obese.

Poverty causes hunger, and nearly 1 in 5 Alabamians live in poverty. Poor families contend with challenges like low wages, part-time work, and unemployment – factors that make it difficult to afford food.

Conversely, obesity impacts Alabamians of all walks of life. The Center for Disease Control estimates that in 2011, 31 percent of Alabama adults were obese.

The Food Research and Action Center cites some reasons why low-income people are especially prone to obesity, including:

• Many low-income communities lack full-service grocery stores but have a proliferation of convenience stores that do not stock fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

• Healthy, low fat food is more expensive than low cost, high calorie options.

• Low-income communities have fewer recreation options and higher rates of crime. These higher crime rates (or fear of crime) cause many families to keep their children indoors. Poor kids also do not have the same access to afterschool and summertime recreational activities and sports.

• Being poor is often stressful, which can result in disordered eating, reduced physical activity, and depression – all factors related to weight gain. In addition, hunger and/or poverty can cause production of a stress hormone that is associated with obesity.

The Alabama Poverty Project is a nonprofit resource center dedicated to reducing systemic poverty and its root causes across Alabama. APP educates citizens about poverty, motivates colleges and faith-based institutions to engage in poverty-reduction activities, and advocates for fact-based policy decisions statewide.

We invite Alabamians who are interested in learning more to visit our web site at

Kristina Scott

Executive Director, Alabama Poverty Project

Poverty Flat in Alabama, Median Income Makes Slight Gain

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Child Poverty Also Flat at 27.6 percent

BIRMINGHAM – Contrary to reports prematurely circulated last week, poverty in Alabama remained flat at 19 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates released today by the US Census Bureau.

Alabamians did see a small spike in median household income, which increased from $40,474 in 2010 to $41,415 in 2011, a gain of $941.

“Alabamians have suffered during this recession. I am glad to see that poverty has leveled off and that Alabama families are seeing some gains in household income,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of the Alabama Poverty Project.

Alabama is tied with Arizona for the seventh highest rate of poverty amongst the 50 states, according to ACS estimates.  States ranking higher than Alabama are Mississippi (22.6 percent), New Mexico (21.5 percent), Louisiana (20.4 percent), Arkansas (19.5 percent), Kentucky (19.1 percent) and Georgia (also 19.1 percent).

Children continue to be more impoverished than any other segment of the population. In 2011, 27.6 percent of Alabama’s children lived in poverty, as compared to 21.9 percent of children nationwide.

According to the Center for American Progress, this level of child poverty today cripples our long-term economic competitiveness. Research has proven that childhood poverty impacts an individual’s educational outcomes, worker productivity, and even long-term healthcare costs.

“I urge Alabamians to learn about why more than 1 in 4 children live in poor families and to engage in solutions. Our future depends on it,” said Scott.

The 2011 poverty threshold is $17,916 per year for a family of three and $23,021 per year for a family of four.

The data also emphasizes the link between educational attainment and income. The median individual income for Alabama working age adults with a bachelors degree was $44,800, while the median individual income for those with just a high school diploma was $25,069.

“Educational attainment is the single biggest predictor of economic well-being. Alabama is making great strides in improving outcomes for our primary and secondary students.  However, postsecondary education is essential for long-term economic well being,” said Scott.

Detailed charts are available here.


The Alabama Poverty Project (APP) is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing systemic poverty and its root causes across Alabama. APP educates Alabamians about poverty, motivates colleges and faith-based institutions to engage in poverty-reduction activities and advocates for fact-based policy decisions. APP was founded in 1993 and is based in Birmingham, AL. For more information visit



Starting in 2006, the Census Bureau began releasing annual estimates of income and poverty for all places, counties, and metropolitan areas with a population of at least 65,000 as well as the nation and the states. Estimates based on a single year of ACS data are available only for areas with total populations of at least 65,000.


Reports of reduced poverty premature; Census to release conclusive data next week

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Despite news published across the state claiming that Alabama’s poverty rate dropped from 17.2 percent in 2010 to 15.4 percent in 2011, the available data is not conclusive.  The Census data released yesterday, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011, reported that poverty nationwide remained static at 15 percent.

In addition, new tables show that the percentage of Alabamians living in poverty increased from 15.4 percent to 16.3 percent from 2008 to 2011. Another table showing average state-by-state poverty rates from 2009 to 2011 has Alabama at a 16.4 percent.

The Census Bureau will release results from the 2011 American Community Survey on Thursday, September 20, with reliable one-year state-specific poverty estimates.

Yesterday’s report did confirm a harsh reality – children are more impoverished than any other segment of the population. Nationally, 21.9 percent of children under age 18, 25.1 percent under age 5, and 47.6 percent of related children with a female householder live below the poverty line.

According to the Center for American Progress, this level of child poverty today cripples our long-term economic competitiveness. Research has proven that childhood poverty impacts an individual’s educational outcomes, worker productivity, and even long-term healthcare costs.

Want to learn more about yesterday’s poverty data release? Check out the 5 Things You Need to Know About the 2011 Poverty Data.


REVISED-HIGH POVERTY AREAS HIT HARD BY TORNADOES: 36 of 42 Counties on disaster list have above-average poverty

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

BIRMINGHAM – 36 of the 42 Alabama counties that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared eligible for individual disaster assistance have poverty rates higher than the national average.

“Natural disasters hit high poverty communities the hardest,” says Kristina Scott, Executive Director of the Alabama Poverty Project (APP).  “They are more vulnerable to personal injury and property damage when a storm hits, have fewer financial resources and are more likely to experience severe mental health impacts, including post-traumatic stress disorder.”

According to the US Census Bureau, 14.3 percent of Americans live below the federal poverty threshold.  The poverty threshold is determined by age and number of people in a household and was $21,954 for a two-adult, two-child household in 2009, the most recent year for which poverty data is available.

The Census Bureau also reports that 17.5 percent of Alabamians live in poverty.  Fourteen of the tornado-impacted counties have poverty rates greater than 20 percent, including Chambers (20.7 percent), Choctaw (22.8 percent), Clarke (29.1 percent), DeKalb (21.7 percent), Franklin (21.8 percent), Greene (28.4 percent), Hale (26.6 percent), Marengo (24.9 percent), Marion (21.2 percent), Monroe (23.4 percent), Perry (31 percent), Pickens (28 percent), Sumter (35.1 percent) and Winston Counties (24.9 percent).  A full list of impacted counties with key poverty data is attached.  More information is also available on the APP website at

In their 2004 report “Poverty and Disasters in the United States,” Sociologists Alice Fothergill and Lori Peek conclude that while poor individuals are more likely to perceive hazards as risky, they are less likely to prepare for hazards or buy insurance; less likely to respond to warnings; more likely to die, suffer injuries, and have proportionately higher material losses; have more psychological trauma; and face more obstacles during the phases of response, recovery, and reconstruction.

In response to the catastrophic tornadoes, APP is compiling resources for individuals to give, volunteer and advocate for those impacted by the storms.  They are regularly updated and available at

About the Alabama Poverty Project:

Alabama is the sixth poorest state in the nation. The Alabama Poverty Project (APP) mobilizes Alabamians to eliminate poverty through strategic relationships with faith communities, higher education institutions and civic organizations. For information and resources, visit our website,


Poverty Rate
All Persons 1 Children 2 Seniors 2 Female Headed Households 2
United States 14.3% 20.0% 9.7% 37.1%
Alabama 17.5% 24.6% 11.8% 45.1%
Autauga 11.2% 16.2% 7.8% 28.3%
Bibb 18.1% 25.7% 12.8% 49.7%
Blount 14.6% 20.4% 12.1% 39.6%
Calhoun 19.0% 26.7% 10.6% 52.6%
Chambers 20.7% 30.2% 12.1% 44.0%
Cherokee 18.4% 28.1% 7.7% 52.8%
Chilton 18.7% 27.5% 10.0% 38.0%
Choctaw 22.8% 29.8% N/A N/A
Clarke 29.1% 37.9% 19.6% 56.2%
Colbert 16.0% 24.8% 9.2% 48.6%
Coosa 16.7% 25.4% N/A N/A
Cullman 19.3% 25.7% 13.5% 39.4%
DeKalb 21.7% 32.0% 15.5% 41.5%
Elmore 14.2% 19.2% 9.9% 29.6%
Etowah 17.2% 26.6% 12.0% 45.7%
Fayette 19.6% 26.9% N/A N/A
Franklin 21.8% 29.7% 12.6% 50.7%
Greene 28.4% 39.7% N/A N/A
Hale 26.6% 35.4% N/A N/A
Jackson 16.4% 24.3% 15.9% 38.9%
Jefferson 16.5% 22.9% 11.1% 36.2%
Lamar 18.2% 25.8% N/A N/A
Lauderdale 14.5% 21.8% 8.0% 48.9%
Lawrence 16.2% 22.9% 10.9% 44.1%
Limestone 13.5% 19.1% 11.3% 32.4%
Madison 10.3% 14.7% 6.3% 36.4%
Marengo 24.9% 32.3% 15.2% 46.4%
Marion 21.2% 30.9% 14.8% 70.5%
Marshall 19.1% 26.2% 14.2% 54.3%
Monroe 23.4% 33.2% 16.6% 67.8%
Morgan 15.9% 23.2% 12.6% 41.9%
Pickens 28.0% 34.1% N/A N/A
Perry 31.0% 48.9% N/A N/A
Shelby 6.9% 9.9% 4.9% 20.1%
St. Clair 13.8% 19.3% 10.3% 35.0%
Sumter 35.1% 42.3% N/A N/A
Talladega 18.9% 26.5% 15.3% 51.3%
Tallapoosa 17.8% 28.1% 9.2% 48.8%
Tuscaloosa 19.9% 22.6% 10.5% 47.9%
Walker 16.0% 22.9% 13.9% 49.8%
Washington 19.3% 26.5% N/A N/A
Winston 24.9% 36.4% 17.2% 53.8%
1 U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (2009)
2 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates (2007-2009)



Everyone counts. Or do they?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

From today’s Anniston Star:

More than 54,000 Alabamians were not counted in the U.S. Census nearly 10 years ago, researchers estimate.

To put that in perspective, that would be as if census-takers missed the entire cities of Anniston, Oxford and Jacksonville — combined.

. . .

Under-counted states receive less federal money, see a reduction in federal programs and miss opportunities for growth and expansion. Census figures aren’t mere facts or headlines. They lead to improvements in states’ futures, as well.

. . .

[I]f Alabama residents and census-takers produce a more accurate count, then the state stands a better chance of receiving more federal money for a host of worthwhile programs. That includes Medicaid, highway construction projects, free and reduced-lunch programs, Head Start and many others.

Likewise, the dollar-figure estimates are staggering. Gov. Bob Riley’s office says Alabama lost $546 million during the last decade due to an inaccurate census count. Numbers from the Brookings Institution use a higher estimate — $685 million.

In robust times, Alabama is hardly in a position to leave needed government funds on the table. But these are not robust times, and the upcoming fiscal years will be Siberian bleak. Getting an accurate count, and taking full advantage of the available opportunities, is critical to Alabama’s future.

Read the full text here.

Posted by Kristina Scott

Veterans and Poverty: Gender and age matter

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

On this Veteran’s Day, I thought I would look at how military service impacts economic security.

According to the Census Bureau, poverty is low among veterans. Only 5.6 percent of veterans lived in poverty in 1999 – or about half the rate for all adults, which was 10.9 percent.

However, our youngest veterans, those who served in August 1990 or later, were among the most likely to be poor, with a poverty rate of 6.2 percent. And, according to this story from the Boston Globe,  the VA says that the number of homeless women veterans is on the rise.

An estimated 6,500 female veterans end up homeless.  While that’s a relatively small number, it is twice was it was a decade ago. Again, younger veterans are more at risk: One out of every 10 homeless vets under the age of 45 is now a woman.  And many are single moms.

More from the Globe:

“Some of the first homeless vets that walked into our office were single moms,’’ said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “When people think of homeless vets, they don’t think of a Hispanic mother and her kids. The new generation of veterans is made up of far more women.’’

Overall, female veterans are now between two and four times more likely to end up homeless than their civilian counterparts, according to the VA, most as a result of the same factors that contribute to homelessness among male veterans: mental trauma related to their military service and difficulty transitioning into the civilian economy.

I will be thinking about these women and their children when I give thanks to all the women and men who fight and fought for our country.  God Bless.