Central Appalachia Holds to Higher Level of Poverty than Rest of U.S.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
(photo: Ronny Perry, United Methodist News Service

Regardless of how the United States does economically, a large portion of Appalachia has struggled with higher rates of poverty than the national average, according to a new study.


Over a four-year period (2007-2011), more than 16% of those living in nine Appalachian states resided at or below the federal poverty line, compared to 14.3% of all U.S. residents during the same time period.


Statistics compiled by the Appalachia Regional Commission showed two states’ Appalachia region endured poverty levels exceeding 20%: Kentucky (24.8%) and Mississippi (22.9%).


Of the 12 states that make up Appalachia, only three states—Georgia, Maryland and Pennsylvania—had poverty rates within their Appalachian region that fell below the national average.


A 2013 Ohio State University study examined the relationship between coal mining and poverty rates in the Appalachian region, and found that an existing correlation has been in decline since 2000—a trend which, the study cautions, may not be permanent. The study also noted that poverty rates in the region are reduced by proximity to metropolitan areas and education among workers that reaches at least the high school graduation level.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Natural Resource Curse and Poverty in Appalachian America (by Cynthia Thaler, Journalist’s Resource)

Poverty Rates, 2007–2011 (Appalachian Regional Commission)

A Critical Review of Rural Poverty Literature: Is There Truly a Rural Effect? (by Bruce Weber, Leif Jensen, Kathleen Miller, Jane Mosley, and Monica Fisher; International Regional Science Review, Sage Journals) (abstract)

U.S. Poverty Rate Is Creeping Toward a 50-Year High (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Vicki Baker, AllGov)        

Reading, Pennsylvania, Leads Nation’s Cities in Poverty Rate (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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