While the nationwide numbers show 1 of every 6 people falls into the poverty category, that number in Texas is one in five. In fact, Texas ranks 44th in total poverty, with 4.6 million Texans living in poverty last year.
Francis Deviney is a senior research associate at the Austin-based Center For Public Policy Priorities. She says Texas is growing quickly, which doesn’t help our poverty rate.
“To reduce poverty, we’re going to really need a highly skilled and educated workforce. We’ve seen an increase in jobs in Texas in the last few years, but we’ve also seen an increase in the unemployment rate and that’s because our population has really gotten a lot bigger pretty fast, much faster than the rest of the country. So all these people are coming in and some people are getting jobs and some of them aren’t.”
Deviney says the poverty rate has doubled since the start of the recession. She says part of the problem is the quality of jobs
in some parts of Texas.
“We also have the highest percentage of low-wage jobs in the country. That means for hourly workers, those who make minimum wage or less. People who make that little amount, if you have one parent who has two kids working full-time on minimum wage, she’s only making about $15,000 a year. She’s certainly going to fall under the poverty line.”
Some state lawmakers say the latest numbers show the need for increased education spending, not cuts. The legislature just recently passed big reductions in school funding because of the state’s continued budget troubles.
Written by Jack Williams and voiced by Ed Mayberry.