UW News

September 10, 2009

New U.S. Census report shows poverty increasing more in West than elsewhere


Income in the 13 western states didn’t decline as steeply in 2008 as elsewhere in the country, but poverty went up more, according to a researcher at the West Coast Poverty Center at the University of Washington.

Jennifer Romich, an associate professor of social work who analyzed data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Census Bureau, determined that real median income in the West declined by 2 percent to $55,085, compared with a nationwide decline of 3.6 percent.

But poverty in the West went from 12 percent to 13.5 percent, slightly higher than the 13.2 percent national figure.

“More than one out of every eight Americans was below the official poverty line, and the new numbers show poverty is growing faster in the West as the recession is felt here,” said Romich, who analyzed “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008.”

Nationwide, more people were without health insurance but the overall rate was statistically unchanged, with 15.4 percent uninsured. In the West, however, the percentage of people without health insurance rose from 16.9 percent in 2007 to 17.4 percent in 2008.

The full Census report is at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/p60-236.pdf .


For additional information, contact Romich at romich@uw.edu .