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These Three Maps Show Where Poverty Is Worst in America

Twenty-four states saw their poverty rate decline in 2016.

On Thursday, the United States Census Bureau released its annual data on state- and local-level income, poverty, and health insurance coverage rates. (The agency released national data, indicating that median U.S. household incomes increased slightly in 2016, earlier this week.) The data illustrates the geographic variations in poverty and economic growth across the country.

As the chart below illustrates, household income levels vary significantly between states, with Alaska, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey registering the highest household incomes:


Real median household incomes increased in most U.S. states between 2015 and 2016. The map below, from the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, illustrates median income changes, by state, between 2015 and 2016:


The data also points to significant income differences across cities. Median incomes in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., were the highest, at $96,667 and $95,843, respectively. Three Florida metropolitan areas—Tampa, Miami, and Orlando—clocked in with the lowest median household incomes of $51,115, $51,362, and $52,385.

Not surprisingly, poverty rates, displayed in the U.S. Census Bureau map below, also differ substantially among states:


Last year—2016—was, however, a good year for almost every state. Twenty-four states experienced declines in their poverty rate between 2015 and 2016, and only one state (Vermont) saw its poverty rate increase in 2016, from 10.2 percent to 11.9 percent.