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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Rural households

Rural Poverty

USDA says poverty increasing in rural America, By Michael Rosmann, May 28, 2014, Farm and Ranch Guide: “Rural child poverty is at its highest level since the mid-1980s, according to two recently released USDA Reports: Rural America at a Glance, 2013 Edition and Rural Poverty & Well-being. Like the overall poverty rate, child poverty in nonmetropolitan (rural) areas of the US has historically been higher than in metropolitan (urban) areas. In 2012, rural child poverty increased to 26.7 percent – its highest level in nearly three decades – while the urban rate declined slightly to 20.9 percent. Definition of poverty. The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines poverty as less income than is necessary to purchase basic needs, which include food, shelter, clothing and other essential goods. . .”

Affordable Care Act

  • Health Care Law Fails to Lower Prices for Rural Areas, By Reed Abelson, Katie Thomas, and Jo Craven McGinty, October 23, 2013, New York Times: “As technical failures bedevil the rollout of President Obama’s health care law, evidence is emerging that one of the program’s loftiest goals — to encourage competition among insurers in an effort to keep costs low — is falling short for many rural Americans. While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges. Those places, many of them poor, are being asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans in the 34 states where the federal government is running the health insurance marketplaces, a review by The New York Times has found…”
  • Obama team to clarify health care penalties, By David Jackson, October 24, 2013, USA Today: “The Obama administration is seeking to clarify penalty rules for people who delay signing up for coverage under the new health care law. Simply put: People who wait until the end of the initial enrollment period — March 31 — will not be penalized. The Obama administration is preparing legal guidance to address a confusion of dates in the law, which says people must sign up by the 15th of one month to receive coverage on the first of the next month…”

USDA Rural Poverty Initiative – Utah

StrikeForce aims to help reduce rural poverty in Utah, By Whitney Evans, April 3, 2013, Deseret News: “Gilbert Harris, 70, and his wife manually watered their 10 acres of alfalfa and Native American corn for most of his farming career. It took them five days every two weeks. Through funding provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Harris installed gated irrigation a little more than five years ago and reduced the time he spent watering by one to two days. ‘All these people are here to help you, but you have to put it together. We found out that is the secret,’ Harris said in a video created by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Utah is one of 10 states selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to participate in the StrikeForce initiative, created in an effort to boost economic development and job creation…”

USDA Rural Poverty Initiative

USDA grows rural poverty effort, Associated Press, March 26, 2013, Washington Post: “A federal program intended to reduce poverty and improve life in rural areas through better access to federal funding is expanding to six more states, officials said Tuesday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack traveled to South Carolina to announce the expansion of the so-called StrikeForce initiative, which already operates in 10 states. The program will now also be available in the Carolinas, the Dakotas, Alabama and Virginia. The goal of StrikeForce is to help farmers, food producers and other businesses get access to money for projects such as new wells, greenhouses, community gardens, kitchen space and summer meals for low-income school children. The money is often hard to access because of complicated grant applications, requirements for matching funds and limited staffing…”

US Rural Unemployment

Rural unemployment continues down, By Bill Bishop, June 4, 2012, Daily Yonder: “Unemployment in rural America continues to drop. In April, the average unemployment rate in the more than 2,000 rural counties dipped to 7.7 percent. And the unemployment rate in exurban counties – counties near metro areas but largely rural in character – declined to 7.2 percent. Both rural and exurban counties had average unemployment rates that were below the average for metropolitan counties, which was 7.8 percent in April. The figures on county unemployment were just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics…”

Rural Poverty Rates

SD has highest rural poverty rate in Great Plains, By Marcus Traxler, May 23, 2012, Mitchell Daily Republic: “South Dakota has the highest rate of rural poverty in a 10-state region of the Great Plains, and more than one-fourth of the state’s rural children live in poverty, according to a report by the Center for Rural Affairs. According to 2010 census data used in the report, 20.6 percent of South Dakotans in rural counties live in poverty. That’s 44,973 of the state’s 218,821 rural residents. Montana was the next closest state with a rural poverty rate of 17.8 percent. A rural county is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a county with a population center less than 10,000 residents in size and is not in a metropolitan or micropolitan area…”

Post Office Closings in Rural Areas

Post office closings may increase rural isolation, economic disparity, By Cezary Podkul and Emily Stephenson, February 18, 2012, Washington Post: “Postal officials were blunt in December when they stood before 120 residents in Dedham, Iowa, to tell them why their town’s post office has to close. The Internet, officials said, was killing the U.S. Postal Service. ‘Well, I have no Internet,’ resident Judy Ankenbauer said at the meeting. Like many of Dedham’s 280 residents, Ankenbauer said she still relies on the post office to buy stamps and send letters and packages. Dedham is hardly alone in its dependence on the Postal Service. Some of the nation’s poorest communities, many of them with spotty broadband Internet coverage, stand to suffer most if the struggling agency moves ahead with plans to shutter thousands of post offices this year, a Reuters analysis found. Nearly 80 percent of the 3,830 post offices under consideration are in sparsely populated rural areas where poverty rates are higher than the national average. Moreover, about one-third of the offices slated for closure fall in areas with limited or no wired broadband Internet…”

Rural Poverty in the US

U.S. recession hikes rate of rural poverty, By Bill Bishop, January 31, 2012, Daily Yonder: “The percentage of people living in poverty was higher in rural America than in either exurban or urban counties in 2010, according to the U.S. Census. And these rates have increased since the recession began in 2007. In 2007, before the recession began, 15.8 percent of those living in rural counties fell under the poverty line. Three years later, that rate in rural counties had increased to 17.8 percent…”

Poverty Measurement – China

  • China raises poverty line, increasing number of official poor by 100 million, Associated Press, November 29, 2011, Washington Post: “Even with its booming economy, China now has more poor people – at least officially. A sharp upward revision in the official poverty line, announced by the government Tuesday, means that 128 million Chinese in rural areas now qualify as poor, 100 million more than under the previous standard. The new threshold of about $1 a day nearly doubles the previous amount. While the revised poverty line is still below the World Bank threshold of $1.25 a day, the change brings China closer to international norms and better reflects the country’s overall higher standards of living after three decades of buoyant growth…”
  • China increases rural poverty limit to $1 a day, November 29, 2011, BBC News: “China has redefined the level at which people in rural areas are considered poor to include everyone earning less than $1 a day (6.5 yuan). Previously people in the countryside were only regarded as poor if they earned less than 55 cents a day. The move should see millions more people get access to state benefits. Some 27 million people were classified as rural poor last year. The new threshold is expected to increase that number fourfold…”

High-Speed Internet Access

  • FCC launching $4-billion program to narrow digital divide, By Alexa Vaughn, November 9, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “The Federal Communications Commission is launching a $4-billion program to narrow the digital divide by making high-speed Internet access and computers more affordable for more than 25 million mainly low-income Americans. The FCC said a public-private partnership, which includes major broadband and computer companies and nonprofits, will make ‘the biggest effort ever’ across the nation to help poorer citizens as well as rural residents, seniors and minorities obtain broadband access. Those who qualify would pay $9.95 a month for Internet access at 1 megabit per second and $150 for a refurbished laptop running the Windows 7 operating system, along with applications that include digital literacy training…”
  • Internet access: Discount for poor families with kids, By Peter Svensson (AP), November 10, 2011, Christian Science Monitor: “Cable companies said Wednesday that they will offer Internet service for $9.95 per month to homes with children that are eligible for free school lunches. The offer will start next summer and is part of an initiative the Federal Communications Commission cobbled together to get more U.S. homes connected to broadband. One third, or about 35 million homes, don’t have broadband. That affects people’s ability to educate themselves and find and apply for jobs, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said…”

US Food Insecurity

  • Study confirms child hunger is a growing problem in rural areas, By Laura Bauer, August 24, 3011, Kansas City Star: “Robert Krogsdale says his six daughters have never missed dinner or gone hungry. But look at what the Bates County, Mo., man and his wife, Reanna, have to do to make that happen: They use food stamps. They buy bread and fruit on sale. They rely on cheap staples like spaghetti. For Christmas, his parents give them packages of beef they use throughout the year. And once a month, the Krogsdales drive 17 miles from their rural home into Butler, Mo. – sometimes in the family’s 12-passenger, 12 miles-per-gallon van – to load up on groceries at a food pantry. ‘I make sure they have their plates and mouths full,’ Krogsdale said of their six daughters, as well as two stepsons who are with the family on the weekends. ‘If it boils down to I don’t eat, it’s real simple.’ Often, when people think of the nation’s hungry kids, the image is of families in urban-core neighborhoods. In rural areas, where farmers harvest crops and ranchers raise livestock, kids do all right – or at least that was the perception of many…”
  • Hunger a problem for Southwest Michigan children, new study shows, By Chris Fusciardi, August 26, 2011, Kalamazoo Gazette: “More than one in five children under the age of 18 in Kalamazoo County live in households that are struggling with hunger, ac­cording to a new study. The study, ‘Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2011,’ found that 21.5 percent of children in Kalamazoo County are struggling with hunger, a figure that was determined using 2009 U.S. Census data including median family income and childhood poverty rates. The study was released Thurs­day by the Food Bank of South Central Michigan and the national nonprofit agency Feeding America…”
  • Food Bank: 1-in-4 Midland County kids hungry; some West Texas areas much higher, By Kathleen Thurber, August 25, 2011, Midland Reporter-Telegram: “More than one in three children suffer from food insecurity in the 22-county area served by the West Texas Food Bank, according to a report released Thursday. Data released by Feeding America shows 24.8 percent of children in Midland County deal with hunger issues. And while that’s lower than the 34.9 percent of children in the West Texas area who are hungry, it still is above the national average of 23.2 percent, according to the report…”

Rural Households and Tax Credits

Tax credits and rural incomes, By Ron Durst and Tracey Farrigan, May 19, 2011, Daily Yonder: “Since 1980, the total cost of tax expenditures has increased by over 250 percent and currently exceeds $1.1 trillion. A primary reason for this growth is that there is greater bipartisan support to enact tax expenditures than to fund or increase direct spending programs, especially since tax expenditures are often viewed as tax cuts. These expenditures have significantly reduced the share of taxpayers who owe Federal income tax. As a result, in 2009, only about half of rural taxpayers owed any Federal income tax. This is slightly below the overall rate of 53 percent of all taxpayers and reflects the lower income levels of rural taxpayers. In 2008, 22 percent of rural taxpayers received a cash payment from one or more of the refundable tax credits. The average amount was $2,428. Thus, an effect of the increased use of the tax code for social policy goals has been an increase in the number of rural taxpayers who owe no Federal income tax and who receive a cash payment as a result of the refundable tax credits…”

Rural Health Care Access

Rural poor caught in budget war over clinics, By Curt Brown, May 14, 2011, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Deb Zupke gets both angry and bewildered that the ordinary-looking strip-mall storefront in her hometown has become a target of the budget battles in Washington and St. Paul. Planned Parenthood relocated its clinic to the site just next to the Ace Hardware store in the Belle Mar Mall one year ago. Nearly 5,000 women come from the local university and far-flung farms to visit the four exam rooms, the little lab area and the bland-but-warm reception area every year — just like Zupke and her two older sisters did while growing up on a dairy farm 10 miles west of here. ‘For rural women like us, this was the only place to go for our annual exams and birth control,’ said Zupke, now 27 and pregnant with her first child. ‘Abortion is the first thing that pops into everybody’s mind when they hear Planned Parenthood, and I don’t know why. I know what their real focus is because I was a recipient, and it was my primary care.’ In this and 15 other outstate clinics from Albert Lea to Thief River Falls, nearly 60 percent of Planned Parenthood’s 64,000 Minnesota patients come for Pap smears, breast cancer screenings, infection treatment and birth control. Far beyond offering birth control, the clinics have become the backbone of the public health system in outstate Minnesota, where health-care options are increasingly sparse…”

Financial Security in Rural Areas

Building wealth in rural America, By Ray Lopez, April 19, 2011, Daily Yonder: “Residents of rural communities face different challenges than their urban counterparts when they try to build assets or take steps to achieve financial security. The reasons are many and familiar. Rural communities have seen their share of economic struggles in recent years. Nearly one in six people living in rural America fell below the poverty line in 2009, according to U.S. Census data. Of the nearly 3 million Texas residents who were classified as rural by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, 19.5 percent were below the poverty line. That is 3 percentage points higher than in urban Texas. Unemployment and educational attainment levels were also worse in rural Texas than in urban Texas…”

Poverty and Services in Rural Areas – Colorado

Mobile services making rural poverty a little more bearable, By Barbara Cotter, March 26, 2011, Colorado Springs Gazette: “The elderly man shooting the breeze with folks at an Ellicott food and clothing pantry is reluctant to share his full name, but when it comes to discussing his financial situation, he’s an open book. ‘I’m poor, lady. I’m very poor,’ says the man, who will identify himself only as ‘Mr. Hughes.’ The 71-year-old former electrician lives with his wife and a caretaker and survives on about $910 a month in Social Security. He talks about having to choose between heat and food, how he sometimes has to go without gas in his car. Even paying for his oxygen can be a struggle. ‘And yeah, there’s times I don’t eat,’ he says in a gruff voice interrupted by rhythmic puffs from his oxygen tank. Poverty challenges people no matter where they live. But a hard life is made harder for Hughes and hundreds of other financially strapped people who live on the eastern plains of El Paso County, where unending stretches of two-lane and dirt roads connect one small town with few social services to other small towns with few social services…”

2010 US Census

  • Two Kentuckys: Cities grow while rural areas decline, Census shows, By Bill Estep, March 18, 2011, Lexington Herald-Leader: “Kentucky’s Golden Triangle continued to grow during the last decade as the population drained away from the eastern and western coalfields and farm counties along the Mississippi River. That’s the overarching news from the state’s official 2010 U.S. Census count, released Thursday. The state as a whole grew a modest 6.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, to a total population of 4,339,367 as of last April 1, according to a Herald-Leader analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. The numbers released Thursday include more detail: population breakdowns by city, county, race, ethnicity and voting age that shed light on the state’s internal shifts and the growth in the number of Hispanic residents – up 112 percent since 2000…”
  • Census data confirms suburban growth, greater diversity in Minn., By Elizabeth Dunbar, March 16, 2011, Minnesota Public Radio: “Minnesota has become slightly more racially diverse, and Minneapolis and St. Paul have lagged behind population growth in other parts of the state over the past 10 years. Those are just a few of the trends found in 2010 census data that state and local officials will examine as they re-draw voting districts and plan government services for the future. The results of the annual American Community Survey already provided officials with information about Minnesota’s population and diversity trends. The survey has replaced the long-form of the census used to track things like poverty and English proficiency. But the release of the new data gives officials detailed counts of the people who live in a particular urban neighborhood or small town. It also provides more detailed demographic information…”

Medicaid Expansion – Minnesota

Expanded Medicaid a lifesaver for rural poor in Minn., By Tom Robertson, March 14, 2011, Minnesota Public Radio: “Sweeping changes to the Medicaid program in Minnesota this month have expanded health coverage for tens of thousands of low-income adults. For many of those people in Greater Minnesota, the expansion of Medicaid means they’ll be able to access health care closer to home. That’s good news to Jacque Morrow, 43, a homeless woman who sometimes seeks shelter at the People’s Church in Bemidji. Morrow and other rural clients who were covered under General Assistance Medical Care – adults without children with incomes at or below 75 percent of the federal poverty guideline – struggled to access health care. That’s because under the old program, they could only be treated at one of four hospitals – all in the Twin Cities…”

Population Decrease in US Counties

In quarter of U.S. counties, deaths outnumbering births, By Hope Yen and John Raby (AP), February 23, 2011, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “In America’s once-thriving coal country, 87-year-old Ed Shepard laments a prosperous era gone by, when shoppers lined the streets and government lent a helping hand. Now, here as in one-fourth of all U.S. counties, West Virginia’s graying residents are slowly dying off. Hit by an aging population and a poor economy, a near-record number of U.S. counties are experiencing more deaths than births in their communities, a phenomenon demographers call ‘natural decrease.’ Years in the making, the problem is spreading amid a job slump and a push by Republicans in Congress to downsize government and federal spending…”

Rural Broadband Access

Digital age is slow to arrive in rural America, By Kim Severson, February 17, 2011, New York Times: “After a couple of days in this part of rural Alabama, it is hard to complain about a dropped iPhone call or a Cee Lo video that takes a few seconds too long to load. The county administrator cannot get broadband at her house. Neither can the sportswriter at The Thomasville Times. Here in Coffeeville, the only computer many students ever touch is at the high school. ‘I’m missing a whole lot,’ said Justin Bell, 17. ‘I know that.’ As the world embraces its digital age – two billion people now use the Internet regularly – the line delineating two Americas has become more broadly drawn. There are those who have reliable, fast access to the Internet, and those, like about half of the 27,867 people here in Clarke County, who do not. In rural America, only 60 percent of households use broadband Internet service, according to a report released Thursday by the Department of Commerce. That is 10 percent less than urban households. Over all, 28 percent of Americans do not use the Internet at all…”

Rural Poverty in the US

Poverty highest in rural America, rising in recession, By Bill Bishop, December 27, 2010, Daily Yonder: “Nearly one in six people living in rural America fell below the poverty line in 2009, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. And poverty rates in rural counties continue to be higher than in rural and urban communities. In 2009, the poverty rate in rural America was 17.26%, according to the Yonder’s analysis of Census Bureau data. The rate in exurban counties was 13.3%; and in urban counties, the rate was 13.9%. The national poverty rate in 2009 was 14.4%. Rural, urban and exurban poverty rates were higher in 2009 than before the recession began in late 2007. The 2009 rates for urban, rural and exurban counties were all about one percentage point higher than the rates in 2006. There were 8.3 million people living below the poverty line in rural counties in 2009, half a million more than in 2006. Nationally 42.4 million people fell below the poverty line in 2009, 4 million more than before the recession began…”