- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2001

Poverty rates in 1998 fell to a pre-recession low while median household incomes rose to a record high, according to state-level estimates released today by the Census Bureau.
The state-level data, used to administer federal programs, show that by 1998, 12.7 percent of the U.S. population, or 34.4 million people, lived in poverty. In 1998, a family of four was considered poor if its annual household income was $16,660 or less.
Historical census data show that the last time the U.S. poverty rate was this low was in 1989, when 12.8 percent of the population, or 31.5 million people, were poor.
The bureau said 1989 was a low point for poverty. The recession that began in July 1990 eventually pulled 15.1 percent of the population, or 39.2 million people, into poverty.
The data released today also show that poverty rates for children younger than 18 fell in 1998, with 18.9 percent, or 13.4 million children, deemed as poor.
Poverty rates also fell for the youngest children, age 5 and younger, with 4 million children, or 20.8 percent of their population, deemed as poor in 1998.
Poverty rates for all children peaked in 1993, when 22.7 percent, or 15.7 million children, were poor.
While poverty fell in 1998, incomes rose: The 1998 median household income was a record high of $38,885 almost $10,000 a year more than the median income in 1989.
Locally, the District tied with Louisiana for having the second-highest poverty rate of 18.2 percent. New Mexico had the highest poverty rate of 19 percent.
Some 90,664 District residents were poor. In Virginia, 10.2 percent of the population, or 696,205 persons, were poor; in Maryland, 8.8 percent, or 454,060 persons, were poor.
The District's median household income, at $36,442, was below the national average.
The median incomes in Virginia and Maryland $42,622 and $47,492, respectively were among the nation's highest.
Connecticut had the highest median household income of $49,846, while West Virginia had the lowest, with $28,460.
Today's data are based on state-level figures collected in the March 1999 Current Population Survey, Supplemental Security Income rolls, tax returns and the 1990 census.
Poverty and income data for 2000 will be released in September, the bureau said. Data from the 2000 Census, however, won't be released until 2002.


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