2009 Census Data Show Poverty and Uninsured Numbers on the Rise

The recession may have technically ended last year, but that doesn’t mean economic hardship among Texans ended along with it. According to 2009 data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, more Texans are living in poverty and without insurance than in 2008. Wendy Siegle reports.

Texas is one of 31 states that have seen their poverty rate go up between 2008 and 2009. According to the newly released census data, 4.2 million Texans lived below the poverty line in 2009. That means the state’s poverty rate is the 8th highest in the country. Frances Deviney is a senior researcher with the Center for Public Priorities in Austin. She says the jump in the poverty rate was expected.

“Texas did not enter the recession until late 2008, so the last numbers that we had didn’t really reflect any of the economic impact on Texas. 2009 we were fully into the recession. Texas was hit like the rest of the country.”

The poverty rate in the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area is lower than the state average, but at 15.3 percent, it’s still higher than the national average of a little over 14 percent. Across Texas, whites fare markedly better than blacks and Hispanics.

“Hispanics are nearly three times as likely as white, non-Hispanics to live in poverty.”

And blacks are about two and half times more likely to live below the poverty level.

The fall out from the economic downturn has also left more Texans without health insurance. Once again, Texas had the nation’s highest uninsured rate, according to the 2009 data. Nearly one in four people do not have health insurance. To put that is perspective the national average is one in seven.

Preliminary results from the 2010 Census will be out later this year. Deviney says it’s likely the poverty numbers will be even worse.

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