Recessions Drive Up Poverty Rates

A blog post by Chris Lilienthal, originally published at Third and State.

This will come as a little or no surprise to most people, but poverty rates rise following recessions. The economists at the Keystone Research Center recently put together this chart to make that point, using poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), going back to 1980.

Recessions Drive Up Poverty Rates in PA and the U.S.

(Click on the chart to make it larger.)

The Census also released data from its American Community Survey (ACS), which we highlighted last week and fellow blogger Stephen Herzenberg discussed recently on Radio Smart Talk (skip ahead to the 40-minute mark for Steve's segment).

The ACS provides a larger sample size than the CPS, allowing us to drill down to the state and local level with more confidence. As the table below shows, poverty rates are up in most major metro areas of Pennsylvania. We have more tables detailing poverty and uninsured rates by metro area and county (with populations of 60,000 or more), as well as health insurance coverage by type and age range, at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's web site.

Poverty has risen in most parts of PA (2007 to 2010)

  Poverty Rates (%)
Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas 2007   2010
Pennsylvania 11.6% * 13.4%
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 8.0 * 11.7
Altoona, PA 13.7   12.3
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA 12.4 * 16.5
Chambersburg, PA 7.8   9.2
DuBois, PA 15.8   16.4
East Stroudsburg, PA 8.7 * 13.6
Erie, PA 14.5 * 17.4
Gettysburg, PA 7.4 * 10.2
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 8.7 * 10.9
Indiana, PA 20.8   18.8
Johnstown, PA Metro Area 13.9   12.9
Lancaster, PA 8.7 * 10.5
Lebanon, PA 8.6   10.9
Meadville, PA 13.8 * 20.7
New Castle, PA 14.3   16.6
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 11.5 * 12.7
Pittsburgh, PA 11.2 * 12.2
Pottsville, PA 12.0   12.7
Reading, PA 11.3 * 14.1
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA 11.9 * 14.9
Somerset, PA 10.3 * 14.4
State College, PA 15.1 * 20.9
Sunbury, PA 12.9   15.1
Williamsport, PA 12.9 * 18.0
York-Hanover, PA 8.9   9.2

Note. *Poverty rate is statistically different at the 90 percent confidence level from the 2010 poverty rate.

Source. Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center calculations based on the American Community Survey 2007-2010

View more tables detailing state, metro and county level data from the ACS.

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