Poverty in Michigan is decreasing but our state still ranks poorly nationwide

The U.S. Census Bureau releases the most recent poverty data for the state of Michigan and the latest report does show our state heading in the right direction.

The latest data looks at 2016, and when you compare it with 2015 stats, poverty numbers are improving across Michigan for adults, children, and families with children.

“That is something to celebrate.” says Peter Ruark with the Michigan League for Public Policy. He was also happy to see a drop for a few racial groups.

“Another thing we should celebrate is that particularly for African-Americans poverty has decreased going from 47% to 42%.”

The new numbers show three positive trends: The number of people, overall, living below the poverty line decreased from 15.8% to 15%, the percentage of families with children considered in poverty dropped from 19.1% to 17.4%, and the number of kids under the age of 18 living below the poverty line fell to 21%.

It’s not all good news. Michigan still slumps when compared to the rest of America ranking in the mid-30’s when compared to the rest of America.

“We’re not great in the country yet in terms of poverty” says Ruark,  “but compared to ourselves we are doing better than we did a few years ago and better than last year.”

Plus, not everyone dealing with financial hardship fits the definition of poverty. Ruark says, current wages aren’t helping and may keep many people from rising above.

“The minimum wage will not pull a single parent with two kids out of poverty. They could be working full time, 40 hours, and still be in poverty.”

The poverty line for a family of four in Michigan is less than $24,257 and is $12,486 for one person under the age of 65.

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