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Persistent Poverty: Places to People

July 15th, 2016

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People living in long-term poverty experience a range of complex challenges that limit opportunity for some. The Mid South states, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, are home to a quarter of the nation’s persistently impoverished counties – counties where the poverty level has exceeded 20 percent for at least three decades. Families living in these high-poverty areas often must overcome the lack of resources that support efforts to improve their quality of life. For example, limitations on job creation, health care access, quality education, affordable housing, and access to financial services create further challenges for people in these persistent poverty counties.

Persistent Poverty in the Mid South

The Mid South has the highest concentration of persistent poverty in the nation – 97 of the nation’s 384 persistent poverty counties. Here, more than 44 percent of counties and parishes are in persistent poverty. Louisiana and Mississippi are the only two states where more than half the counties and parishes are persistently impoverished. In Louisiana, 52 percent of parishes are in persistent poverty, while 59 percent of counties in Mississippi are in persistent poverty; in Arkansas, 21 percent of counties are in persistent poverty.

Persistent Poverty Counties in the Mid South

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Persistent Poverty: Places to People

It is important to not only understand where poverty occurs but also who it impacts. In the Mid South, more than 30 percent of the population lives in persistent poverty. This is equivalent to the entire population of Mississippi – approximately 3 million people. For some living in long-term poverty, this can create an exceptionally difficult environment for them to make ends meet, much less move forward through homeownership, entrepreneurship or post-secondary education.

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There is much work to be done to help alleviate poverty in the nation’s most impoverished region. In areas that continue to suffer from decades of entrenched poverty, it is crucial to invest resources and expand support to help create ladders of opportunity for people in high-poverty areas.


Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. Persistent Poverty Counties. Retrieved from

United States Census Bureau: QuickFacts. Retrieved from

Jessica Shappley-02

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