Population Rises in U.S. Poverty Areas, Arkansas Up Nearly 15 Percent

One in four residents of the United States live in “poverty areas,” according to federal data. That’s an increase from less than one in five in 2000.

The number of people living in poverty areas rose from 49.5 million, 18 percent, in 2000 to 77.4 million, 25.7 percent, in 2008-12.

The information comes from American Community Survey data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau from 2008 to 2012.

“Living in poverty” and “living in a poverty area” aren’t the same thing. The 2012 ACS data show that about 14.9 percent of the U.S. population lives in poverty. But poverty isn’t distributed evenly across neighborhoods, a Census Bureau report issued late last month notes. “There are neighborhoods in every state that have higher than average poverty rates,” it says, and the bureau defines any census tract with a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher as a poverty area.

In Arkansas, the percentage of people living in poverty areas in 2010 was 38.8 percent. In 2000, it was 23.1 percent.