16% of Tarrant County residents living in poverty

Posted Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Tarrant County by the numbers 1,880,153: Population $56,040: Median household income 16 percent: Living in poverty 11 percent: Household income below $15,000 10 percent: Household income over $150,000 23 percent: Lack health insurance 55 percent: Born in Texas 17 percent: Born in foreign countries 33.7 years: Median age 9.6 percent: People over 65 27.5 percent: People under 18 2.8 people: Average household size 47,000: Grandparents living with grandchildren under 18 26 minutes: Average commute to work 1.1 percent: Commuters who walk to work Source: 2012 American Community Survey

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Texas was one of just two states where the number of people living in poverty declined slightly from 2011 to 2012 as median household incomes across the U.S. remained essentially flat, according to U.S. census data released Thursday.

The poverty figure in Texas fell from 18.5 percent in 2011 to 17.9 percent in 2012. The other state with a decline was Minnesota, according to the 2012 American Community Survey.

Nationally, 15.9 percent of the population was living in poverty, defined as an income of less than $18,480 for a family of three. Mississippi had the highest rate, at 24.2 percent, and New Hampshire had the lowest, at 10 percent.

From 2000 to 2012, the number of people in poverty in the U.S. rose from 33.3 million to 48.8 million, according to the report Poverty: 2000 to 2012, also released Thursday.

In 2012, 16 percent of Tarrant County residents were living in poverty. Thirteen percent of all families and 31 percent of families with a female head of the household and no husband present had incomes below the poverty level.

The one-year survey shows that most areas of Texas and the nation haven’t fully recovered from the recession, said Steve Murdock, a former U.S. census director and director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University.

“It shows economic progress, but we’re not back to where we were in the 2006-2007 period,” Murdock said Thursday.

Nationally, median household income was essentially flat at $51,371. Mississippi had the lowest median income in 2012, at $37,095, while Maryland had the highest, at $71,122.

In Texas, that figure was $50,740, largely unchanged from 2011 to 2012. By comparison, the median household income in 2000 was $52,365.

In 2012, 13 percent of Texas households had incomes below $15,000 a year, and 9 percent had incomes of $150,000 or more.

The median income in Tarrant County was $56,040. Eleven percent of households had incomes below $15,000 a year, and 10 percent had incomes over $150,000.

In Fort Worth, the median household income was $50,750. Thirteen percent of households had incomes below $15,000, and 7 percent had incomes over $150,000.

Midland, in the midst of an oil boom, had the highest median household income among Texas metropolitan areas, at $61,331. Austin was second-highest, at $59,433, followed by Dallas at $56,954 and Houston at $55,910.

The Texas population topped 26 million, growing by about 385,000 from 2011 to 2012, according to the one-year estimate.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area accounted for about a third of that growth, adding 121,000 for a total population of 6,647,496 in 2012.

During the one-year period, Tarrant County grew by 30,338 to 1,880,153. That’s up by about 71,000 since the 2010 Census.

Texas continues to have the highest rate of people without health insurance, at 24.6 percent, or 5.7 million, according to the Current Population Survey released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That rate was even higher in Fort Worth, where 25 percent of the population lacked health insurance, according to the survey released Thursday.

In Tarrant County, the percentage of uninsured went from 21.4 percent in 2011 to 23 percent in 2012. Of the 419,000 Tarrant residents without medical insurance in 2012, nearly 70,000 were under 18.

Insurance coverage

Among the state’s 9.8 million Hispanics, 34 percent lacked health coverage.

Those numbers are cause for concern, said Lloyd Potter, the state demographer.

“Overall, Texas is still at the bottom of the heap for insurance coverage. It’s a real issue in the Rio Grande Valley and among Hispanics,” he said.

“With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, I think it’s something to be concerned about,” he said, noting that in Mississippi, just 17 percent of the population lacks health insurance.

“You can’t deny the fact that when you look at Texas relative to other states, we’re way behind,” he said. “We’re looking good economically, but if you look at other states like Mississippi that haven’t been doing so good, they still have higher rates of healthcare coverage.”

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981 Twitter: @stevecamp

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