U.S. Census Bureau
Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States
Census reports highlight regional poverty crisis
A new report issued by the US Census Bureau called Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012, and an analysis of the 2013 American Community Survey by the Philadelphia Inquirer, show that while the Philadelphia metropolitan area is already the poorest of the nation’s ten largest cities, it also has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half of the poverty line.
The Inquirer’s Alfred Lubrano reported that Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.2 percent, or nearly 185,000 people, including about 60,000 children. That’s almost twice the U.S. deep-poverty rate of 6.3 percent.
Camden’s deep-poverty rate of 20 percent is more than three times the national mark.
As the city’s overall poverty rate declined slightly between 2012 and 2013 – from 26.9 percent to 26.3 percent – the deep-poverty rate remained nearly the same, figures show.
By definition, a family of three living in deep poverty would take in around $10,000 annually, half the poverty rate of $20,000 for a family that size.
Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate “is a tremendous alarm bell of dysfunction and dangerous conditions,” said Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, told Lubrano. People in deep poverty live with uncertainty about food, housing, and child care, experts say. Often, they can’t pay rent and move in with friends or relatives.
Deep poverty also has severe consequences for children. Many develop cognitive and emotional delays, studies have shown.
Children in deep poverty are more frequently hospitalized, do less well in school, and are less likely to be employed later in life, said Mariana Chilton, a national expert on poverty at Drexel University’s School of Public Health. She added that deeply impoverished children grow up to report severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Many turn to crime.
The root cause of deep poverty is “people unable to get jobs for one reason or another,” said Roberta Iversen, an expert on low-income families at the University of Pennsylvania. “They can’t work for reasons of depression, disability, or lack of jobs.”
The census data also showed that New Jersey registered the highest increase in the number of poor people in America between 2012 and 2013.
In South Jersey, which includes Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties, an additional 12,145 people became impoverished, a spike of 10 percent that year.
In the Pennsylvania suburbs of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, the number of people in poverty declined by 4 percent.
Camden and Gloucester Counties showed especially sharp rises in poverty, specifically among children. Childhood poverty rose from 19.8 percent to 23.8 percent between 2012 and 2013 in Camden County.
In Gloucester County, the numbers increased from 10 percent to 13.2 percent.
Camden City remained a place mired in hard times, with a poverty rate of 42.6 percent, making it the poorest U.S. city with a population of 65,000 or more.
In Camden, 52 percent of children lived in poverty in 2013 — an improvement over 2012, when the figure was 53.3 percent.
The entire state of New Jersey saw its poverty rate grow from 10.8 percent in 2012 to 11.4 percent in 2013, an increase of 63,600 people, the largest increase in the number of poor people in any state in America.
In Pennsylvania, the poverty rate in 2013 matched the 2012 rate of 13.7 percent.
The rate of poverty in the Pennsylvania suburbs was mixed, census numbers show.
Poverty fell slightly in Delaware and Chester Counties; it increased 0.7 percentage points in Bucks County, and 0.4 percentage points in Montgomery County.
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