Poverty up in Virginia

Allison Abbott

This is a guest post by Allison Abbott. Allison is a Senior Studying Exercise Science at Virginia Commonwealth University.  She is currently working on a research project in the area of VO2 On-kinetics and recently finished up an internship at the VCU’s TEENS program- where she worked as a personal trainer. She is a Policy Fellow at H.O.M.E.

Four out of ten of the richest counties are located in Virginia.  A statement like this might lead you to believe that Virginians are not suffering from economic crisis; but this is untrue.  Virginians like most other Americans are suffering in the Great Recession. In fact according to the Washington Times: “nearly 260,000 children were living in households below the federal poverty line — $22,000 a year for a household of four — in 2010, up 14.4 percent from 2007.”

Additionally, “374,894 Virginians living in “deep poverty,” defined as about $11,000 a year for a family of four. That figure represents a 20 percent jump from 2007.”  It is easy to see from these statistics that Virginians have suffered as well.  Many families have found it challenging to make ends meet. A recent study on poverty in Virginia shows that:

  • Although poverty disproportionately affects Virginia’s racial minorities, more than half of Virginians living in poverty are white.
  • Poverty rates are growing fastest for Virginians with college degrees.
  • While statewide poverty rates in Virginia are lower than national averages, the new report shows that in six metropolitan statistical areas in the southern and western parts of the state, poverty rates are actually higher than the national average.
  • In 2009, more Virginians fell into deep poverty, which for a family of four meant living on less than $11,025 a year.
  • Almost 23 percent of Virginia’s workers earned wages too low to support a family of four above the 2009 poverty threshold.

This news shouldn’t be surprising given how wages have been stagnant while costs have skyrocketed for working families, especially on housing. It is more important than ever for Virginia to work on reducing housing costs and helping low and moderate income Virginians build wealth.

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