Louisiana’s economy is improving by some measures. But the economic gains have failed to dent the state’s shameful rate of poverty, according to new American Community Survey (ACS) data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Almost one in five Louisianans–about 896,000 people–lived below the poverty line in 2014. The share of Louisianans living in poverty was the same as in 2013 — 19.8 percent. Louisiana had the third highest poverty rate last year, behind only Mississippi and New Mexico.
An even higher rate of Louisiana’s children lived in poverty–27.9 percent, statistically unchanged from the year before. That’s 306,000 children, enough to fill Tiger Stadium three times over. Compared to other states, Louisiana is losing ground. The Pelican State moved from having the fourth-highest child poverty rate in 2013 to the third-highest in 2014.
“This disappointing data shows that Louisiana still has a long way to go to create an economy that works for everyone,” LBP Director Jan Moller said. “With so many families struggling to afford the basics, poverty should be a front-burner issue for any candidate seeking office this fall.”
Stark racial disparities persist. While 12.8 percent of white Louisianans lived in poverty last year, the rate was 33.7 percent for black Louisianans. The disparities for children are especially shameful for a modern industrial society and shock the conscience: about one in seven white children (14.7 percent) are poor, compared to nearly half of black children (48.1 percent).
The share of Louisianans living in “deep poverty”–defined as just half the poverty line or less than $6,000 in annual income for an individual–stayed at 9.1 percent last year, unchanged from the year before. That means more than 400,000 Louisianans were living with the equivalent of just $10 to $15 a day or less
in cash income in 2014.
To read more about the latest Census number, click here to read a blog by LBP’s Steve Spires or visit www.labudget.org.