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September 28, 2010

New U.S. Census data show more Washington residents living in poverty

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today show that 12.3 percent of Washington’s population was poor in 2009 compared with 11.4 percent in 2008. This represents an additional 73,122 people in poverty. Washington is among 31 states that saw significant increases in poverty rates from 2008 to 2009.

Use of government-provided food assistance also increased during this period. Washington and 45 other states saw their Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program caseloads increase. In Washington, the number of households receiving food stamps rose from 221,475 to 282,907 during this period, a 27.7 percent increase.

Also, real median household income in Washington dropped 1.7 percent, falling from $57,536 in 2008 to $56,548 in 2009. Median income also fell significantly in 33 additional states but rose in one, North Dakota.

The West Coast Poverty Center at the University of Washington notes that although median household income fell in Washington, neighboring states fared worse. Oregon saw its median household income fall 2.5 percent, while Idaho’s median household income dropped 4.9 percent.

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For more information, contact Marieka Klawitter, an associate professor at the Evans School of Public Affairs, 206-616-1673 or marieka@uw.edu .