Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

American Poverty: Where is it, and what does it look like? Is it even what we think it is?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 12, 2017

You’ve likely seen a meme floating around referencing how America’s Most Poverty Stricken counties voted Republican.


I decided to research the matter to see:
1.) If it was true, and;
2.) Exactly what else I’d find.

While my analysis isn’t fully complete, there are already some early fascinating findings.

Breaking down Poverty into two categories – Per Capita Income (PCI) and Median Household Income (MHI) – has shown “the usual suspects,” but exposed some not-so-usual ones, as well.

For example, we often hear that West Virginia is a very High Poverty state, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Data from the United States Census Bureau (USCB) backs up those claims… yet only to a limited extent.

But, “pockets” of poverty may exist in an otherwise not-so-poor state (and they do), and a state may have a high number of significantly impoverished counties relative to it’s total number of counties. Yet the number of those counties, and their populations may not be a significant proportion of the state’s population, nor of the overall impoverished counties nationally. That also speaks to Population Density (PD), which refers to how closely “packed” people live to each other in a given area, typically in a one-mile square. New York City, for example, has a enormously high PD, while Sioux Falls, SD has a significantly lower PD in comparison.

As an aside, an area may be quite large, but have few people, while conversely, an area may be very small, but have enormous population. That is the erroneous example of the “look at all the red area” proclamations in regard to voting results. Land doesn’t vote. People do.

These matters are important to us as nation, because it also concerns land use. And according to the USCB, a staggering 47% of our nation remains completely uninhabited. Yet according to them and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), much of that land is completely unsuitable for habitation by virtue of it’s topography, or climate – mountains, or desert.

So… that leaves us with the area we now occupy, and how to effectively manage it for our uses, which includes not only for housing, but farmland, and land for our economic, industrial, and entrepreneurial needs.

But more on poverty…

Poverty can also be measured as a proportion of the Cost Of Living (COL), though it is infrequently cited by the USCB as such. Again, using New York City as an example, the cost of housing in that area comprises a significant percentage of one’s income, while, other costs such as food and transportation are additional considerations. Thus, residing in a rural area with often significantly lower average income may be more “economically beneficial” because the COL is lower.

The trade-off to such an arrangement is that economic opportunities are also significantly lower in rural areas, and depending upon one’s line of work, gainful employment or entrepreneurial opportunities in such areas may be greatly diminished, or even non-existent.

And by its nature, that matter speaks directly to transportation.

Now… here are TWO initial findings from my research:

59 counties with 2,426,531 population in 6 states comprise 79% of the 100 Poorest counties Per Capita.


68 counties with 909,077 population in 5 states comprise 58% of the 100 Poorest counties by Median Household Income.

So… what states are they, and how did they vote?

Stay tuned!

There’s MORE!

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