Census Poverty Data

Unfortunate news today, the number of Montanans experiencing poverty increased in 2013. This highlights the point that many people have not yet recovered from the recession and underscores the need for Montana to do more to help struggling families afford basics like decent housing, nutritious food, and reliable child care and transportation.

This is day two of the U.S. Census Bureau’s release of new data on how Montanans are doing. Earlier this week, we looked at new data on the number of Montanans that still lack access to health care coverage in 2013. Today, we look at poverty levels and wages in Montana.

One in six Montanans lived in poverty in 2013, according to new Census Bureau data released today. That’s less than $24,000 a year for a family of four. In fact, poverty rates in Montana increased slightly since 2012, with an estimated 11,000 more Montanans experiencing poverty.

While the median annual income in Montana adjusted for inflation increased by 3 percent between 2012 and 2013, they are still below pre-recession levels. Also, other sources show that incomes at the top have grown and the gap between the top and bottom and top and middle have widened.

To make it easier for people to move from poverty to economic security, Montana should consider creating a state Earned Income Tax Credit, to help working families make ends meet, and invest in quality pre-K programs, to support Montana’s families. Continuing the status quo will stifle our economy and keep us from creating better, stronger communities. We should take this opportunity to put our state on a better path by creating policies that invest in what matters most – people.

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