New Census Data Shows Poverty Increasing in Mississippi While Median Income Drops

September 19th, 2013

Earlier today the U.S. Census American Communities Survey poverty data was updated to include data for 2012.  The data revealed some grim news for Mississippi families.  Poverty in Mississippi is increasing.  In 2007 one in five Mississippians lived in poverty and in 2012, just five years later, the number grew to one in four.  That represents a tremendous increase in a relatively short period of time.  In fact, from 2011 to 2012 the percent of Mississippians living in poverty increased almost two points from 22.6% to 24.2%.  This was the largest increase in poverty among states for that year. 

Even more troubling is the increase in child poverty in our state.  The percent of Mississippi children living in poverty increased from 28.9% in 2007 to 34.6% in 2012. 

 The decline in economic status did not just affect those living at or near the poverty line.  During the same time period, Mississippi’s median income dropped over $3,000 in the last five years—from $40,240 to $37,095. 

These data are particularly poignant with the talk this week about the state budget during legislative budget hearings.  While Mississippi families struggled to weather the recent recession, lawmakers were cutting funding for our schools, colleges and universities, transportation, and other key services that build a strong economy with good jobs that can help struggling families climb into the middle class. Continued failure to invest in these important services will hurt our economic recovery and make life harder for these families. 

As we move forward, a balanced approach that includes new revenue will allow Mississippi to invest in services that will have long-term payoffs for Mississippi families.