Associated Press Published

Census Data Show West Virginia is Fifth Highest in Poverty Rate

Mountains, West Virginia, Autumn

New federal data show 319,063 West Virginians living below the poverty line last year, a 17.9 percent rate unchanged from the year before and slightly lower than a measured peak in 2011.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows 88,351 children under 18 years old in poverty, or 24 percent of those living in West Virginia in 2016.

It had the fifth highest overall poverty rate among its 1.78 million people, behind the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico.

Among those employed in West Virginia, the rate was 7.8 percent.

Sean O’Leary, of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, says state options to address the problem including protecting Medicaid and other programs low- and moderate-income families rely on and investing in higher education.