Persistent Poverty Counties

The counties where poverty has dug in for the long haul are overwhelmingly rural. They are also predominately Southern.

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The counties where high rates of poverty have been entrenched for long periods of time are overwhelmingly rural.

The Economic Research Service of USDA tracks what it calls Persistent Poverty Counties. These are counties where the poverty rate has exceeded 20% of the population for the last 30 years.

Eighty-five percent of these 352 persistent-poverty counties are located in nonmetro areas.

The map shows their location. Bright green are 301 nonmetro counties with persistent poverty. Yellow are 51 metro counties with persistent poverty. (Dark green is the rest of rural, and light gray is the rest of metro counties).

Click on the map to make it interactive and explore the poverty data by clicking on any county.

In its most recent report on these counties, the ERS writes:

“An important dimension of poverty is time. An area that has a high level of poverty this year, but not next year, is likely better off than an area that has a high level of poverty in both years.”

The ERS also notes that these counties with long-term high-poverty rates “exhibited a strong regional pattern.”

“There are no nonmetro persistent-poverty counties in the Northeast, 29 nonmetro persistent-poverty counties in the Midwest, and 20 in the West. The remaining 252 nonmetro persistent-poverty counties are in the South, comprising just over 26 percent of the total Southern nonmetro population.”

 

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