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Poverty on the Rise in the Northwest

September 29, 2010

Poverty rates are on the rise in the Northwest. New figures released Tuesday from the US Census Bureau show the number of people living in poverty in Washington rose by nearly 1 percentage point last year for a total of 804,000 people. Correspondent Chris Lehmanreports.

Download a copy of this transcript Poverty On The Rise In The Northwest (PDF)

This story also ran on KZTV (Bend) on 9/28/10 (PDF)


In 2009, in order to be counted as living in poverty, your household income had to be under about $22,000 a year for a family of four.

Just over 14 percent of households in Oregon and Idaho were living below that level last year. In Washington the rate was about 12 percent. Those new figures are in line with the national poverty rate, which according to the US Census Bureau is 14.3 percent.

Chuck Sheketoff is director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. He says the 2009 numbers follow a trend that started two years ago.

Chuck Sheketoff: "It's the toll of the recession. And I think the numbers speak volumes about the increased demand for public services that the state has had since the beginning of the recession."

Sheketoff says the poverty numbers would be much worse without safety net programs like unemployment and food stamps. The US Census Bureau reports that all but four states saw an increase in the poverty rate from 2008 to 2009.

I'm Chris Lehman reporting.

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