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Poverty Increases in Mississippi as Families Continue to Experience Economic Hardship During Current Recession

September 20th, 2010

On September 16th, the U.S. Census Bureau released preliminary 2009 data¹on poverty, income, and health insurance coverage across the United States.

  • In 2009, Mississippi’s poverty rate was 23.1 percent, a statistically significant increase from the 2008 rate of 18.1 percent. The poverty rate for Mississippi’s children rose to 31.9 percent, equal to 250,000 children living in households with incomes below the federal poverty level.
  • The nation’s official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008 — the second statistically significant annual increase in the poverty rate since 2004.
  • In 2009, median household income in Mississippi was statistically unchanged from 2008. Mississippi’s median household income was $35,693 in 2009 – not statistically different from 2008. Half of Mississippi’s households have incomes below the median and half have incomes above it. Median household income in the United States in 2009 was $49,777. 

Click to enlarge

Poverty Rates Rise in 2009 for State Overall and for Mississippi’s Children

Microsoft Word - Blog_post ES (poverty and HI).docx

The official poverty data do not include additional support that families received from many Recovery Act provisions, including the Making Work Pay Credit expansions of the Child Tax Credit, EITC, and increased Supplemental Nutrition in 2009. Such assistance moderated the severity of poverty for thousands of Mississippians.

Many of these programs are scheduled to expire soon and the conclusion could result in additional families falling below the poverty line. Specifically, the federal program supporting the Mississippi STEPS program, which has connected thousands of people to jobs will expire on September 30. Additional Unemployment Insurance weeks for the long-term unemployed will expire on November 30. Finally, the new and expanded tax credits for working families expire after 2010. For Mississippians struggling to make ends meet, it is important that these provisions remain in place in the near-term.

¹The Census Bureau will release more authoritative and detailed state-by-state estimates of poverty on September 28th. The data released today on the Census Bureau’s website are preliminary with regard to state poverty levels and the only data available on state health insurance trends since the recession began. On September 28, the Census will release estimates of state and local poverty as well as additional health insurance data from a different survey, the American Community Survey.


U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey


Sarah Welker, Policy Analyst


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