Five U.S. states have posted a significant drop in the number of people living in poverty but Texas is not one of them, even though household incomes have climbed in the state, according to U.S. Census data released Wednesday.
States that saw a reduction in poverty rates included California, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina and Washington. Poverty rate increases occurred in Alaska, Colorado, Florida and Minnesota, the 2014 data showed.
Texas’ rate was mostly unchanged, said Michael E. Cline, associate director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University in Houston.
In fact, the Lone Star state has seen a significant increase in its poverty rate from 2007 to 2014, data showed. Texas’ rate has climbed to about 17 percent from 16.1 percent over that period, Cline said.
“If you compare 2007 to 2014 figures, all states had an increase in the poverty rate, except four states — Colorado, Washington D.C., North Dakota and South Dakota,’’ Cline said. “It’s really the long-term trend going from year-to-year that you want to look at,’’ he said. “Texas from 2013 to 2014 didn’t show a statistically significant change.”
In 2014, the Texas rate was 17.2 compared to 17.5 percent in 2013.
Nationally, the poverty rate dropped slightly to 15.5 percent in 2014 from 15.8 percent in 2013. In 2014, the nation had 48.2 million people living in poverty, compared to 48.8 million a year prior,U.S. Census Bureau data showed.
In 2014, Texas had about 4.5 million people living in poverty, the data showed.
Meanwhile, Tarrant County’s median household income was higher than the state and the nation. In 2014, it reported a median household income of $58,127.The county median in 2013 was $56,906 in 2013.
By contrast, the nation’s median household income at the county level ranged from $21,658 to $125,635.
Cline cautioned against making assertions about minimal rate changes. Numerous states showed slight very slight rates declines, he said.
“Some of those are not statistically significant,’’ Cline said.
Some of the numbers may mask some realities. For example, Tarrant County’s rate of poor stayed flat at 15.2 percent even though the county had more people living in poverty. In 2014, the county had 291,534 people living in poverty. In 2013, it had 286,019.
Cline said that a drop in poverty rates in some states could signal an economic boost.
“Looking at when you go all the way back to the last recession, most other states were impacted quite a lot from the economic downturn,’’ Cline said. “Texas didn’t hurt as bad (from the recession) and now other states may be recovering.’’
The poverty data is provided by the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program. Each year, income and poverty estimates are used for distribution of Title 1 funds to schools with high numbers of socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Title 1 allocations are for the 2016-2017 school year.