Census Finds RI has Highest Poverty Rate in New England

Sep 18, 2013

The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest data contain mixed signals about the state of Rhode Island’s economy.   The median income climbed by double digits but the state still has the highest poverty rate in the region.

While Rhode Island’s median household income climbed 14 percent from 2011 to 2012, the state remained stuck with the highest poverty rate in New England. Thirteen-point-six percent of all residents are living below the federal poverty level. Second is Maine at 12.8 percent.

Kate Brewster, director of the Economic Progress Institute, said she was pleasantly surprised by the median income data but she cautions against reading too much into it.

“While that certainly is significant, it still doesn’t bring us back to the median household income that we had in 2007 before the economy bottomed out,” said Brewster. “So it’s good news but we still aren’t back to where we started from when the recession began.”

The latest Census data also shows the number of Rhode Islanders without health insurance remains unchanged at 14.3 percent. The national average is 18 percent.

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