Report: R.I. has highest poverty rate in New England; 4th highest median income

RHODE ISLAND'S MEDIAN income, according to the 2016 American Community Survey produced by the U.S. Census Bureau was $60,596, while its poverty rate was 12.8 percent for the year. / COURTESY U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
RHODE ISLAND'S MEDIAN income, according to the 2016 American Community Survey produced by the U.S. Census Bureau was $60,596, while its poverty rate was 12.8 percent for the year. / COURTESY U.S. CENSUS BUREAU

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island ranked No. 25 for highest poverty rate in the nation, according to 2016 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau released this week. The rate, which tracks how many people (including children and adults) have incomes below the poverty level, puts the Ocean State last in New England. The report also said that Rhode Island ranked No. 19 in the nation for highest median household income, the fourth-highest median income in New England. Below is a more detailed look at the report:

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME for Rhode Island was estimated to be $60,596 in 2016. / COURTESY U.S. CENSUS BUREAU

Median Income:

The U.S. median household income was estimated to be $57,617 per year. Maryland ranked No. 1 in the nation for highest median household income at $78,945 per year.

 

 

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Rhode Island:

Median household income was estimated to be $60,596. Rhode Island’s median income was ranked No. 19 in the nation in 2016. Rhode Island’s median income ranked No. 4 in New England ahead of Vermont and Maine.

  • White households (84.9 percent of the population) reported a median income of $63,122 per year
  • Hispanic or Latino origin households (of any race, representing 10.7 percent of the population) reported a median income of $36,877 per year
  • Black or African-American households (5.7 percent of population) reported a median income of $42,425 per year
  • Asian household (2.9 percent of population) reported a median income of $83,610

Massachusetts:

Median household income for 2016 in Massachusetts was estimated to be $75,297. Massachusetts’ median income ranked No. 5 in the nation for highest median income and was the highest in New England.

  • White households (88 percent of population) earned an a median $79,488 per year
  • Hispanic or Latino origin households (9 percent of population) reported a median income of $39,742 per year
  • Black or African-American households (6.5 percent of population) earned a median income of $46,381 per year
  • Asian household (5.3 percent of population) reported a median income of $89,425

Household income by age:

Rhode Island:

  • 15-24 years: $24,655
  • 25-44 years: $64,566
  • 45-64 years: $73,323
  • 65+ years: $41,388

Massachusetts:

  • 15-24 years: $38,535
  • 25-44 years: $86,571
  • 45-64 years: $91,684
  • 65+ years: $45,893

Poverty rate:

In the United States, it was estimated that 14 percent of the population lived below the poverty line in 2016, about 44.3 million individuals. According to the Economic Progress Institute, the 2016 poverty level income for a family of four was $24,563. White residents in the United States and regionally reported a noticeably lower percentage of residents living below the poverty line. Nationwide, 19.5 percent of residents 18 years old and younger lived below the poverty line.

RHODE ISLAND REPORTED the highest rate of residents living under the poverty line in New England. / COURTESY U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
RHODE ISLAND REPORTED the highest portion of residents living under the poverty line in New England. / COURTESY U.S. CENSUS BUREAU

Rhode Island:

It was estimated that 12.8 percent of residents lived below the poverty line in 2016, with the following demographic breakdown:

  • 10.6 percent of whites lived below the poverty line in 2016
  • 21.9 percent of Hispanic or Latino in origin residents lived below the poverty line
  • 22.4 percent of black or African-American residents lived below the poverty line in 2016
  • 13.2 percent of Asian residents lived below the poverty line in Rhode Island

Still, “too many Rhode Islanders continue to face obstacles to getting ahead such as a lack of access to good-paying jobs, unaffordable child care, and inadequate education and job training resources,” said Rachel Flum, executive director of the Economic Progress Institute.

However the organization also noted that the poverty rate in Rhode Island has declined from 13.9 percent in 2015 and from 14.3 percent in 2014.

RHODE ISLAND'S POVERTY rate is lower than the national average, but is the highest of the New England states. / COURTESY ECONOMIC PROGRESS INSTITUTE
RHODE ISLAND’S POVERTY rate is lower than the national average, but is the highest of the New England states. / COURTESY ECONOMIC PROGRESS INSTITUTE

The EPI also noted the economic disparities both in income and in poverty rates among minorities in Rhode Island (gaps that are also reflected in U.S. poverty and income data for 2016).

“Rhode Island’s economic vitality will continue to be stifled until we close the yawning gap in the economic well-being of Latino and Black Rhode Islanders”, said Justice Gaines, coordinator of the Racial Justice Coalition.

The survey said 17 percent of those 18 years old and younger in the state live below the poverty line. According to Rhode Island Kids Count, this is a 4.5 percentage point decline from 2013’s child poverty rate.

“It’s encouraging that the latest data on Rhode Island’s child poverty rate show a continuing downward trend since 2013,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count.  “Gradual improvements in the economy, including an increase in median family income, are beginning to have a positive impact on Rhode Island’s child poverty rate. However, the fact that 35,000 children in Rhode Island continue to live in poverty is a stark reminder that there is more work to do.”

 

Massachusetts:

It was estimated that the percentage of residents living below the poverty line in the Bay State was 10.4 percent in 2016.

  • 8.2 percent of white residents in Massachusetts lived below the poverty line in 2016
  • 26.5 percent of those of Hispanic or Latino origin lived below the poverty line
  • 20.6 percent of black or African-American residents lived below the poverty line
  • 13.7 percent of Asian residents lived below the poverty line
  • Of residents 18 years old or younger, it was estimated that 13.6 percent lived below the poverty line

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.