Census: Nearly 1 in 6 Hoosiers impoverished last year

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Nearly 1 in 6 people lived in poverty last year in Indiana — the highest rate in nearly three decades — according to census figures released Tuesday, prompting an advocate for needy families to say the state is faring worse in the current economic downturn than its budget surplus suggests..

The Census Bureau estimated that 16.3 percent of Indiana residents, or 1.35 million people, lived in households earning less than the poverty level, compared with 15.1 percent nationally. The poverty level is a sliding scale based on income and household size, but the rate for a family of four is $22,350.

Lisa Travis, a program manager of the Indiana Institute for Working Families, noted that among adjacent states, only Kentucky's 17.7-percent rate was higher than Indiana's. Indiana had the 14th highest poverty rate among all U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

"Indiana is considered to be faring the recession better than our neighboring states due to our ability to amass a state surplus. However, these new poverty numbers show this is not the case," Travis said in statement, noting that the poverty rate has more than doubled in Indiana since 2000.

She said Indiana should consider using state government's surplus to help families get "the hand up they need to get out of poverty," including increasing access to work supports, education and job training.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has repeatedly pointed to the state's budget surplus as a sign that Indiana has weathered the economic downturn better than other states.

However, the new census estimate was based on a relatively small sample of Indiana residents and might not be as reliable as other government surveys, cautioned Carol Rogers, a demographer with the Indiana Business Research Center.

But she did say that the census' 2010 estimate for Indiana was the highest rate among data going back to 1982, with the next highest poverty rate being the 16.1 percent reported in 2009 and in 1983. The data also show that Indiana's poverty rate increased in each of the last five years.

Emails seeking comment from Daniels' press secretary and a Family and Social Services Administration spokesman weren't immediately returned Tuesday.

The Indiana Institute for Working Families is a program of the Indiana Community Action Association.


  • What Rick?
    Rick, what are you talking about? Are you saying that the people who are "living" in poverty are sellin drugs? robbing 7-11's or some other illigal activity? What are you saying? How much do you think anyone who is making $22k or less a year can make "on the side?" Do you think they make $100k a year with "other" income? If someone makes a couple of thousand more, that would bring their income to, what, $24K a year, or less. How many of them make that? All 16 plus percent? You certainly sound like an understanging person. I hope you are not a neighbor of mine.
  • Cash
    Have to wonder how many of these people "living in poverty" are making plenty of cash off the books though.
  • Blind

    Indy is not NYC or Chicago. Those places demand high services and quality of life. Around here, people like you think having crappy housing and low taxes is Gods gift. People look here and laugh at our lack of cultural, environmental and social investment. You just hang on to your house, because no one is going to buy it.
  • For elite -- Mitch is great.

    Remember, for elite business owners, Mitch cut property tax, and INCOME TAX. This allows the rich elite to expand with more cash paid illegals. The left over working class can make up the difference.

  • The working poor
    I think the response is "why is the poverty level at 16.3%", not how correct is this figure. This is far too high for Indiana or any state. Phil, would you like to try to live on $22k a year? We see the income level figures in the news everyday and and with such a small percentage (say 1 or 2
    %) making the vast majority of income, and then we see this large percentage of people trying to live on $22k and less, you know, being just a little bit of a socialist is not an unacceptable goal.
  • taxes
    Thank God for Mitch Daniels. My property taxes for the last three years has not gone over $300.00. That is right two acres, two story house, and my property taxes this year was $208!!! Beat that CA, NY, IL, TX, AZ,and most other states. Can you find a one bedroom appartment in Indy for under $1600.00 per month? You cannot in LA or NY!!
    • Please provide a baseline ...
      I think the author and IBJ needs to provide a better baseline for this story. Is the poverty level as defined in the article, at $22k a year for a family of four, a national standard or is it the level for Indiana? is that amount adjusted for cost of living, taxes, etc. state by state? If not, I think the Mitch Bashers need to lay off, and realize that Indiana is doing better than other states. If this article is saying we have a slightly higher percentage of people making $22k or less than we did 20-30 years ago, I'd agree that is not a good thing, but I'd still say we are ten times better off then people in other states where the cost of living has skyrocketed. $22k takes you twice as far here as it does on the east or west coast, or even in chicago. To maintain the standard of living i enjoy here in Indiana, i'd have to make at least 60-70% more in annual income to leave in DC, Chicago, LA, or NYC (probably more to get anywhere near the same square footage). Again, I'd rather see people making more, but i think its unfair to say we are a leader in poverty in the country. Lets provide better information to make more accurate comparisons when using statistics like this.
    • Ahhh Mitch at work.....
      Remember when Mitch touted the states successes for having more money than our neighbors and remember when he said his BILLIONS of dollars investing in roads would draw jobs for hoosiers and remember when all the money he paid companies to locate here while neglecting the needs of small business. Remember when he said we needed to focus on issues that weren't associated with quality of life because we needed jobs and income for Hoosiers. Remember when he capped property taxes in the interests of residents that was supposed to save us so much money? It sure seems like something is going on here...........hmmm
    • Thanks Mitch
      I feel lucky that Mitch is our gov. Just think how many people would be hurting if the state did not have billions- yeah right- in surpluses.

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