UW News

September 17, 2015

Poverty decreases, income inequality stagnant in Washington state

News and Information

The share of Washingtonians living in poverty dropped from 14.1 percent to 13.2 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.

Washington was one of 12 states with significant declines in their poverty rates during that period. Among the remaining states, the vast majority saw no change in their poverty rates or the number of people in living in poverty.

“We are finally seeing a drop in the poverty rate six years after the end of the Great Recession. However, there were still over 900,000 poor residents in Washington in 2014, including more than 275,000 children,” said Jennifer Romich, director of the West Coast Poverty Center at the University of Washington and an associate professor of social work.

Poverty rates vary widely across the state of Washington. For example, Snohomish County had a poverty rate of 9.7 percent, while 22.5 percent of Cowlitz County residents and 20.3 percent of Yakima County residents were estimated to be poor. As a whole, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area had a lower poverty rate (11.3 percent) than the state, but some cities within the metropolitan area, such as Everett (21.6 percent) and Tacoma (19.6 percent), face higher poverty rates.

The estimated median annual household income in Washington for 2014 was $61,360, up from $58,405 in 2013. Median income in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area increased from $67,479 in 2013 to $71,273 in 2014.

There was no change in income inequality in Washington, or in 42 other states and the District of Columbia.