Almost one in five Texans is living at or below the federal poverty line, according to fresh data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase from 4.26 million in 2009 to 4.63 million in 2010 represents an increase of almost 9 percent.
The federal poverty threshold for a two parent family of two is $22,314 per year.
“That’s a pretty meager existence for families to be able to make ends meet and provide all the basic things we need have a healthy, productive lifestyle,” Center for Public Policy Priorities senior researcher Frances Deviney told KUT News.
Deviney says several factors contribute to the increase in poverty. Although the state has produced more jobs over the past few years, more people are also moving to Texas. That helped increase the unemployment rate.
“And of the jobs we have, we have the highest percentage of hourly workers who are paid minimum wage jobs,” Deviney said, noting that Texas is tied with Mississippi.
The US Census Bureau also showed Texas still has the highest rate of people without health insurance at 24.6 percent. That compares with a national average of 16 percent.
Among the data released by the US Census Bureau was a three-year average of the poverty rates, which Deviney says is most useful if comparing states with each other. Here’s a graph using those three-year averages. You can see Texas has the eighth highest poverty rate nationwide.