A Graphic View of Poverty in Oregon

Fact Sheet
November 9, 2011 Download PDF
Note: This report has been updated. View the updated report.

More Americans lived in poverty in 2010 than was reported in the official poverty statistics, according to a new, Supplemental Poverty Measure released by the U.S. Census Bureau in early November 2011. The supplemental measure did not include state-level data.

But even under the inadequate, official definition, poverty engulfs a large share of Oregonians. And the social tragedy that is poverty is getting worse.

Since the start of the recession, Oregon’s poverty rate has risen every year. In 2007, the year prior to the recession, 12.9 percent of Oregonians lived below the poverty line. By 2010, the poverty rate reached 15.8 percent.

During that period, nearly 120,000 more Oregonians joined the ranks of the poor.

The share of Oregon children living in poverty has been rising and now exceeds one in five. Specifically, the rate of child poverty in Oregon jumped from 16.9 percent in 2007 to 21.6 percent in 2010.

Oregon’s child poverty rate stood below the national average before the start of the recession but recently caught up to the national level.

In 2010, about 600,000 Oregonians lived below the federal poverty threshold — an increase of almost 120,000 since the start of the recession.

To put that total in perspective, the number of Oregonians who are officially poor is about twice the population of Oregon’s second and third largest cities, Eugene and Salem, combined (311,303). If Poverty were a city in Oregon, it would be the state’s second biggest city.

“Deep poverty” — households with income at less than half of the federal poverty threshold — is also on the rise. In 2007, 5.7 percent of Oregonians lived in deep poverty. In 2010 that share grew to 7.2 percent — about 1 in 14 Oregonians.

How deep is deep poverty? In 2010 a family of three would have had to earn less than $8,687 to meet the definition of living in deep poverty.

As bad as poverty is for Oregon as a whole, it’s much worse for Oregonians of color. In 2010, the poverty rate for whites (non-Hispanic) in Oregon was 13.1 percent. By contrast, it was 23.1 percent for Native Americans, 28.8 percent for Latinos, 39.0 percent for African Americans and 40.6 percent for Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islanders. There was no statistically significant difference between the 14.3 percent poverty rate for Asians and the rate for whites.