Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Poverty and Age in Oregon

Oregon’s poverty rate dropped more than 2 percentage points in 2016, to 13.3 percent. Among the states and Washington, D.C., Oregon’s 2016 poverty rate ranked right in the middle at 25th lowest. Poverty rates in 2016 ranged from 7.3 percent in New Hampshire to 20.8 percent in Mississippi in 2016. Back in 2006, Oregon’s poverty rate ranked 30th among the states and Washington, D.C. In the midst of the Great Recession in 2011, Oregon’s poverty rate ranked 36th lowest.

Many of the people in the United States who fall below the official poverty threshold are children or elderly. This is why economic conditions and the availability of jobs don’t change poverty rates very drastically or quickly – many of the people in poverty aren’t willing or able to take a job, so job availability doesn’t change their likelihood of being below the poverty line.

In 2016, just about one-third of the people below the poverty line in the U.S. were under the age of 18. In Oregon, a smaller share of those in poverty were children, at 27 percent. There were 40,200 Oregon children under the age of five in poverty in 2016; they made up 8 percent of people below the poverty line. Another 104,100 Oregon children ages five to 17 were in poverty, accounting for 19 percent of the total below the poverty line.

People age 65 and over make up one out of 10 people in poverty. In Oregon in 2016, 50,900 people age 65 and over had income below the poverty line. However, the population age 65 and over is large enough that the elder population actually has the lowest poverty rate. Oregonians age 65 and over make up 17 percent of the state’s population, but just 9 percent of those in poverty.

Read Economist Jessica Nelson's full article "Poverty and the Oregon Workforce".

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