New Hampshire’s poverty rate dropped considerably in 2013, but still remains above pre-recession levels, according to data released earlier today by the US Census Bureau. While such recent gains on poverty offer reason for optimism, the inability to retake ground lost during the economic downturn should spur policymakers to consider new approaches to aiding Granite Staters struggling to make ends meet.
Last year, 111,495 Granite Staters had incomes below the federal poverty line, the equivalent of 8.7 percent of all state residents. That marks a decline of nearly 17,000 people from 2012, when New Hampshire’s poverty rate stood at 10 percent. Despite this improvement, the share of all Granite Staters below the official poverty threshold is still much higher today than it was in 2007 – when it was 7.1 percent – or than it was in 2000 – when it amounted to 6.0 percent.
Poverty among children in New Hampshire fell noticeably as well, after an apparent spike last year, and may even have returned to levels last seen before the Great Recession. In 2013, 9.7 percent of related children under age 18 lived in households with incomes under the poverty line; that amounts to nearly 25,600 children living in poverty in communities across the Granite State. In 2012, Census Bureau data indicated that 15.1 percent of children – or more than 40,000 kids – were poor. While the child poverty rate announced today by the Census Bureau is comparable to the rate that existed in 2007, it – like that for the overall New Hampshire population – continues to exceed the rate reached at the turn of the century. In 2000, just 6.2 percent of New Hampshire’s children lived in poverty.
Such welcome news on poverty rates is tempered by a continued lack of growth in income for the typical New Hampshire household. In 2013, the Granite State’s median household income – the income level representing the middle of all the state’s households – was $64,230. While that remains high relative to most states, it has also failed to rebound from the recession. In 2007, median household income in New Hampshire was more than $70,000 after adjusting for inflation. In other words, the typical household has experienced a loss of purchasing power of nearly $6,000 or over 8 percent during that span.
While fewer families and individuals are living in poverty today, much remains to be done as New Hampshire strives to build an economy that works for everyone.