September 22nd, 2011

News Release: Poverty Jumps, Median Income Falls Across Alabama

New Census Bureau Estimates Reflect Diminished Economic Opportunities

According to the American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates today released by the US Census Bureau, poverty in Alabama increased from 17.5 percent in 2009 to 20 percent in 2010.

During the same period, median household income fell from $40,474 in 2009 to $40,474 in 2010.

“With higher poverty and lower median household income, Alabamians have diminished economic opportunities,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of the Alabama Poverty Project.

Alabama is tied with Kentucky for the third highest poverty rate amongst the 50 states, according to ACS estimates. Only Mississippi, at 22.4 percent, and New Mexico, at 20.4 percent, rank higher. Alabama’s 2009 ACS estimated poverty rate was 17.5 percent.

The 2010 poverty threshold is $17,374 per year for a family of three and $22,314 per year for a family of four.

“The days when hard work ensured a middle class life are over. Today, the only group seeing consistent gains in median income is college graduates,” said Scott.

Median income for individuals with a bachelors degree in 2009 was $45,502 in Alabama, while median income for high school dropouts was a mere $17,366.

“Even in these challenging times, the surest way out of poverty and into the middle class is a college degree,” said Scott.

With diminished household income, more Alabamians are relying on food assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. ACS data shows that in 2010, 14.3 percent of Alabamians participated in SNAP. In 2010, the average monthly food stamp allotment was $128.20 per person, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

“People who used to consider themselves middle class are struggling to put food on the table,” said Scott, “They are starting to experience what it is like to be poor.”

Detailed charts are available here.

The Alabama Poverty Project (APP) mobilizes Alabamians to eliminate poverty through strategic relationships with faith communities, higher education institutions and civic organizations. It also sponsors the Blueprints College Access Initiative, which equips 21st century high school students with the skills and resources necessary to graduate from high school, pursue post- secondary education, and become advocates themselves for a college-going culture. For information and resources, visit our website, https://alabamapossible.org.

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.