Community Survey: Oklahoma, U.S. poverty numbers increased in 2009
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Published: 07-Oct-2010

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 07-Oct-2010

The American Community Survey on poverty, a new U.S. Census Bureau analysis, found a 1 percent increase in the percentage of the national population living below the government’s defined poverty level.

The rate increased in Oklahoma, traditionally one of the nation’s poorer states, during 2009, according to the study’s analysis. In a table of statistics dubbed “percentage of people by income-to-poverty ratio,” Oklahoma ranked 37th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia analyzed in the report.

The new study was prepared by Alemayehu Bishaw and Suzanne Macartney for the U.S. Census Bureau, Economics and Statistics Administration, Department of Commerce. The researchers found that the raw number of Oklahomans living below the poverty level went from 554,406 in 2008 to 577,956 last year.

That increase of 23,550 people took the percentage of people in Oklahoma below the poverty level from 15.7% to 16.2% of the total population, the analysis concluded.

For the entire country, the Census Bureau study found an increase from 13.3% of the population living below the poverty level to 14.3%. Nationally, the survey found, raw numbers went from 39,328,443 to 42,868,163, a jump of 3,539,720.

Overall, “Thirty-one states saw increases in both the number and percentage of people in poverty” between 2008 and 2009. The authors reported, “No state had a statistically significant decline in either the number in poverty or the poverty rate” in 2009. Further, “The percent of people with income less than 50 percent of their poverty threshold increased from 5.6 percent” in 2008 to 6.3 percent in the 2009 American Community Survey.

The methodology of the annual survey is explained as follows:

“Poverty status is determined by comparing annual income to a set of dollar values called thresholds that vary by family size, number of children, and age of householder. If a family’s before tax money income is less than the dollar value of their threshold, then that family and every individual in it are considered to be in poverty. For people not living in families, poverty status is determined by comparing the individual’s income to his or her threshold.

“The poverty thresholds are updated annually to allow for changes in the cost of living using the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). They do not vary geographically.

“The ACS is a continuous survey, and people respond throughout the year. Since income is reported for the previous 12 months, the appropriate poverty threshold for each family is determined by multiplying the base-year poverty threshold (1982) by the average of monthly CPI values for the 12 months preceding the survey month.”

In addition to the foregoing explanation of methodology, the full report provides an explanation of “confidence level” in the data provided, and projects margins of error for poverty estimates.

 

 

 

 

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