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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The nation's poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent, the highest level since 1994, according to the Census Bureau's annual report on the economic well-being of U.S. households recently released in September for the calendar year 2009. That means one in seven Americans now live in poverty; nearly 43.6 million people. How does Iowa fare as we look at poverty? Specifically, how do the six counties that make up ISU Extension's Region 6 look when discussing poverty.

First, let's define "poverty". "The U.S. Census Bureau determines the poverty status of the non-institutionalized population based on family size and income level. If a family's total annual income is below the threshold level appropriate for that family size, every member of the family is considered poor."

The 2009 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia are as follows: Persons in family; one - $10,830, two - $14,570, three - $18,310, four - $22,050, five - $25,790, six - $29,530, seven - $33,270, and eight - $37,010. For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,740 for each additional person.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau annual report, Iowa had 10.7 percent, over 320,000 people, living in poverty. Because the 2009 data was not found to be broken down to the individual county level, the 2008 U.S. Census data is shared to compare the six counties in our region. People living in poverty: Buena Vista - 2,250, Calhoun -- 1,200, Cherokee -- 950, Ida -- 650, Pocahontas -- 750, and Sac -- 1,100.

With these census figures, can you put a face on poverty in your community? What can be done individually and collectively to bring these poverty numbers down and help local families that live among us?