The Census Bureau released the data from its annual “American Community Survey” on Tuesday, September 28. The data are troubling to say the least.
We already learned on September 16 that one in seven Americans lived in poverty last year—the largest number since the Census started keeping count. We also saw that more than one in five kids lived in poverty in 2009, with dramatic racial and ethnic disparities.
The “American Community Survey” gives us a closer look at how these numbers break down in communities across the country. We often see these data broken down by county, but Half in Ten is today releasing an interactive map that displays the data by congressional district, with breakdowns by gender, race, and child poverty.
Why congressional districts?
The key question is not whether or not poverty is growing nationwide as a result of the Great Recession. It is. These trends are affecting all kinds of districts, from rural Alabama to inner-city Philadelphia to the suburbs of Chicago. The question, then, is what we are going to do about it.
We need the right information to be informed and effective advocates for policies that connect families to decent-wage jobs, ensure there is an adequate safety net when people fall on hard times, and invest in children early on to ensure they grow up with every opportunity to achieve the American dream. When we write or petition our members of Congress to vote for job-creation policies that will lift up low-income communities or invest in vulnerable kids it’s important for us and for them to have a clear picture of what poverty looks like among their constituents.
By presenting congressional data the map will offer lawmakers an important tool to understand poverty among their constituents, and provide analysts, advocates, community groups, individuals, and the media a closer look at how different types of districts are faring.
As the map illustrates, women, children, and people of color were particularly hard hit in 2009 in congressional districts across the country.
- One hundred and one congressional districts had a child poverty rate of 25 percent or more, and at least one-third of children experienced poverty in 32 districts.
- Of the 303 districts for which data are available at least one in three African Americans lived below the poverty line in 24 percent of districts. One in three Latinos lived in poverty in 15 percent of districts for which data are available.
- Only 25 districts had a sample size large enough to include Native Americans, but over half those districts had poverty rates for Native Americans upward of 30 percent.
We hope interested parties find these data helpful as they seek to reduce poverty and promote shared prosperity.