HARTFORD, CT — It doesn’t offer any explanation for why poverty went up in Connecticut in 2018, but the U.S. Census Bureau says Connecticut is the only state in which poverty increased last year.
The numbers released Thursday by the American Community Survey found Connecticut’s poverty rate is around 10.4%. That’s a much lower poverty rate than those of 40 other states, but the trend is going in the wrong direction.
“While Connecticut is still among the top 10 states with the least amount of poverty, the slight increase in the rate is exactly the reason the governor worked to give thousands of hardworking women and men a much-needed raise that will help lift them out of poverty and gradually bring this rate down,” Max Reiss, Gov. Ned Lamont’s communications director, said.
Connecticut’s minimum wage is going to increase from $10.10 an hour to $11 an hour starting on Oct. 1. It’s unclear exactly how many people will be impacted by the change.
“This is perhaps one of the most impactful pieces of legislation for working families that a governor can sign, and while it was the right thing to do, it is not the only thing the governor is doing. Additionally, the governor is collaborating with our state’s large and small employers to strengthen and better match our jobs training programs to give those seeking a good-paying job the skills needed to obtain those jobs,” Reiss said. “Everyone in Connecticut should have access to good jobs and quality of life — which is why the Governor plans to take a look at policies and initiatives to help further combat poverty in our state.”
The Census data on poverty, which has a 90% confidence level, found from 2017 to 2018, the poverty rate declined in 14 states and Puerto Rico.
Year over year increases aren’t necessarily significant, but other data seems to show a similar trend.
Numbers released earlier this year by the Annie Casey Foundation showed the number of children living in poverty increased over a 30-year period.
In Connecticut in 2017, the last year for which data was available, almost 60,000 children lived in high-poverty areas defined as census tracts where over 30% of the households fall below the federal poverty-level threshold, which is around $24,858 for a family of two adults and two children.
Dig a little deeper into those numbers and the data shows that 1 in 5 black children and 1 in 5 Latinx children live in concentrated poverty compared to 1 in 100 white children.
Two factors exacerbating this poverty are housing costs and employment.
Another report released last year found that 30% of Connecticut households, or 404,035 household, have earnings above the federal poverty line, but under a basic cost-of-living threshold. That’s an 11% increase in households that are struggling, but don’t necessarily qualify for government assistance such as Medicaid or food stamps.
When it comes to measures of income inequality, the divide between rich and poor got larger too, according to the latest Census numbers.
Income inequality is measured by the Gini Index where a score of zero indicates perfect equality in income distribution.
The Gini index for the United States in 2018 was significantly higher than the 2017 estimate, and five states including Connecticut had a Gini index higher than the United States.
Connecticut’s Gini Index is 0.5014. That’s above the national rate of 0.485.