[Washington, DC] The recession of the last couple years put more Florida residents into poverty and resulted in a decrease of median family income in much of the state, the U.S. Census Department reported last Tuesday.
Data on poverty and income show school-aged children took the brunt of the economic downturn, and overall Florida poverty rates increased in 39 of Florida’s 67 counties between 2007 and 2010.
Statewide, a little over 3 million Floridians, 16.5% of the population, lived under the federal poverty line in 2010.
Particularly hard hit because of reliance on construction, Florida poverty rates were higher than the national rate of 15.3%. Florida counties were also more likely than the nation as a whole to see the poverty rate rise between 2007 and 2010.
Meanwhile, median income fell in Florida and across the country during the same period as layoffs in the construction and manufacturing sectors meant the loss of good paying jobs as the housing bubble burst and demand for manufactured goods fell along with corporate profits.
DeSoto, Hamilton and Hardee Counties showed overall poverty rates of more than 30% in 2010. The trio of counties led a list dominated by rural counties where non-agricultural jobs are harder to come by and the fate of individual employers make a significant impact.
The national poverty rate in 2010 was $22,050 for a family of four.
Meanwhile, Seminole, Clay, Martin and Nassau Counties posted the lowest poverty rates in the state, within the number of individuals falling below the benchmark at less than 11.5%, a low rate at least partially attributable to a high percentage of retirees and government and military workers.
A lot of Florida families took it on the chin. Median household income fell more than 7% to $44,390 during the four-year period. Median family incomes ranged from $30,967 in Dixie County to $60.841 in St. Johns, according to the Census Bureau.
Overall, Florida median income was $44,390, about 7% above the national median figure of $41,256, which also was lower than in 2007.
One bright spot in the survey was the fact that more Florida children are being covered by health insurance through programs like Medicaid and KidCare, a government-subsidized insurance program targeted at families that make too much money for Medicaid but might not be able to afford private coverage.
“It is especially rewarding to know that in these tough economic times with the state’s higher than national average unemployment rates, Florida KidCare proves to be a valuable resource for families and children,” said Rich Robleto, executive director of Florida Healthy Kids Corp., a public-private partnership that helps administer the program.
The number of uninsured kids in Florida fell from 667,758 to 506,934 during that time period. The state still has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, the Census Bureau said.
By: Michael Peltier/The News Service of Florida
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Florida poverty rates