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 http://www.alabamapossible.org/datasheet

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 www.alabamapossible.org.