Poverty remained high in the commonwealth last year, highlighting that many residents have not yet recovered from the recession and underscoring the need for the state to do more to help struggling Pennsylvanians afford such basics as decent housing, nutritious food, and reliable child care and transportation.
Nearly one in seven Pennsylvanians lived in poverty in 2013, according to new Census Bureau data released on Sept. 18. For a family of four, that meant living on less than $24,000 last year. The median annual income in Pennsylvania, adjusted for inflation, did not rise between 2012 and 2013, and remained far below pre-recession levels.
The change in poverty varied across Pennsylvania, with 20 of 39 counties measured showing a difference from 2007 to 2012.
The child poverty rate in Pennsylvania increased from 15.9% in 2007 to 19% in 2013, making it the 28th highest in the nation.
Despite these increases, Pennsylvania’s overall and child poverty levels were below the national average.
Median household income in Pennsylvania was $52,007 in 2013, $243 below the national average and 23rd highest among the 50 states and Washington, DC.
Pennsylvania’s median income remained statistically unchanged from 2012. In inflation-adjusted terms, Pennsylvania’s median household income was $2,547 lower than it was prior to the recession.
Nationally, median household income showed a modest ($133) increase from 2012 to 2013. Pennsylvania needs to act to prevent the commonwealth from falling further behind as other states’ household incomes grow.
This data on the stagnation of working families and the poor dovetails with the results of a Keystone Research Center report, released two days before these Census numbers, that showed that the top 1% of earners enjoy a larger share of income, while the middle class has shrunk, in every Pennsylvania county since the late 1970s.