The Census Bureau released in September a report on poverty in American from 2000-2012. Not good news for the country. The poverty rate since 2000 has risen from 12.2 percent to 15.9 percent. The number of people living in poverty has increased from 33.3 to 48.8 million.
The trends are worse in Michigan. The poverty rate since 2000 has risen from 10.1 percent to 17.4 percent. The number of people living in poverty has increased from 975,000 to 1,685,000. So Michigan has gone in twelve years from a poverty rate 2.1 percentage points below the national average to 1.5 percentage points above the national average.
In previous posts we have used 2007 as the benchmark year to assess Michigan’s recent economic performance. The year before the Great Recession. Since 2007 Michigan’s poverty rate has increased by 3.4 percentage points from 14.0 to 17.4 percent. And from 1.0 to 1.5 percentage points above the national average.
Once again, Minnesota is the Great Lakes leader with consistently the lowest poverty rate. In 2000 Minnesota’s poverty rate was 6.9 percent, 3.2 percentage points better than Michigan. In 2007 it was 9.5 percent, 5.5 percentage points better than Michigan. In 2012 it was 11.4 percent, 6.0 percentage points better than Michigan and 4.5 percentage points lower than the nation. If Michigan had the same poverty rate as Minnesota there would have been 585,000 fewer Michiganders in poverty in 2012.
In 2012 Michigan had the 14th highest poverty rate in the country. (In 2000 Michigan had the 18th lowest poverty rate.) The only states with higher poverty rates: Alabama | Arizona | Arkansas | Georgia | Kentucky | Louisiana | Mississippi | New Mexico | North Carolina | South Carolina | Tennessee | Texas | West Virginia. So much for wanting to be like the South!
In 2012 Minnesota had the 7th lowest poverty rate in American. The only states lower: Alaska | Connecticut | Massachusetts | New Hampshire | New Jersey | North Dakota. Either energy rich states or those––including Minnesota–with high college attainment rates. The same pattern we find in states with high per capita income.
Just as we explored before with employment and education, when it come to reducing poverty Michigan has a long ways to go before its time for either victory laps or celebration.