Fact and Figures About Where U.S. Poverty Rates Are Highest

Last Updated: March 24, 2014

This article appeared in the March 2014 Rural Policy Matters.

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Question: Are poverty rates higher in metro or nonmetro counties in the U.S.?

Answer: Nonmetro counties. The U. S. poverty rate ($23,492 for a family of four) was 17.7% in nonmetro counties in 2012, compared to 14.5% in metro counties and 15.0% nationally. Many high-poverty nonmetro counties (those with poverty rates over 20%) have been poor for decades, and many of these are concentrated in the South and Southwest. The number of high-poverty nonmetro counties is also increasing. Between 2000 and 2011, 230 counties joined the ranks of high-poverty nonmetro counties, a 30% increase. Many of these counties are not adjacent to existing clusters, suggesting that rural poverty is both increasing and becoming more geographically widespread.

Source: Rural America At A Glance, 2013 Edition.

Read more from the March 2014
Rural Policy Matters.

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