A new interactive map from The Associated Press shows in stark relief how some states gained ground in the fight against poverty, particularly during the economic boom times of the late 1990s and early 2000s, before backtracking over the past few years.
The graphic rendering of poverty data released by the U.S. Census last week also shows that some states are faring better than others when it comes to poverty. Still, not many states have escaped the recent economic malaise without some increase in the percentage of people struggling to make ends meet.
“There are very few places that haven’t been affected by the last two recessions,” said Scott Allard, associate professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and an expert on poverty.
Allard notes that some of the states dealing with highest rates of poverty also are struggling with severe budget issues, which may make it harder to help those in need.
“Many of the states that have some of the highest levels of poverty (are) struggling with making some of the most severe cuts to social programs,” he said.
The nationwide poverty rate hit 15.1 percent last year, up from 14.3 percent in 2009, according to the Census Bureau.
To view the changing landscape of poverty, hit the "play" button at upper left or slide the gray triangle from year to year.