Women and children among hardest-hit groups as poverty rises across Colorado
Poverty in Colorado has increased since the beginning of the recession. A total of 12.9 percent of Coloradans lived in poverty in 2009, up from 11.4 percent in 2008 and 12 percent at the beginning of the recession in 2007, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The proportion of families living in poverty also increased to 8.9 percent.
Not surprising in light of increasing poverty in the state, median household income declined from $57,030 in 2008 to $55,430 last year. Median household income has declined by $1,686 since the recession began in 2007.
- Poverty ratesi for the total state population, for families, and for children increased in 2009. Total poverty was 12.9 percent, up from 11.4 percent in 2008 and 0.9 percentage points higher than 2007.
- Family poverty was 8.9 percent, up from 7.8 percent 2008 and half a percentage point higher than 2007.
One of the most alarming statistics from the 2009 Census data shows 17 percent of Colorado’s children lived in poverty. That’s an increase from 14.8 percent in 2008 and up 1.1 percentage point since 2007. (Figure 1)
Women in Colorado have been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn. In 2009 they experienced a higher rate of poverty and lower median earnings than men. (Figure 2) While female-headed households comprise just less than half of all households with incomes of less than the federal poverty level (Figure 3), those households experienced astonishingly high rates of poverty, particularly given the presence of children. (Figure 4) Almost all, 90 percent, single-women families in poverty are families with children.
The 2009 census data show racial disparities in poverty and income that existed throughout the decade persisted during the Great Recession, with blacks, American Indians and Hispanics having higher rates of poverty and lower median incomes than whites and Asians. (Figure 5) Whites and Asians experienced statistically significant changes in poverty since the beginning of the recession (up 0.6 percent and down 3.5 percent, respectively), while American Indians, Hispanics and blacks saw no statistically significant change in overall poverty rates. Whites and blacks both experienced statistically significant decreases in income (down $1,804 and down $9,751, respectively) from 2007. The change in income for Hispanics, Asians and American Indians were not statistically significant.ii
Education continues to be an important determinant of earnings and poverty. Coloradans with graduate or professional degrees earn more than three times as much as those who did not graduate high school. What’s more, the poverty rate for individuals without a high school diploma is more than seven times that for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher. (Figure 6)
Poverty varies widely across Colorado. Of the 11 counties with populations sufficiently large to be surveyed in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Denver County experienced the highest rate of poverty in 2009 (19.1 percent), and Douglas County experienced the lowest rate (3.2 percent). Other measures, including the number of families receiving food stamps and public health insurance, or going without health insurance of any kind, further paint a picture of growing hardship in Colorado counties. (Figure 7)
An estimated 15.8 percent of Colorado’s population, or 777,794 people, lacked health insurance in 2009. Among adults, the uninsurance rate was 20.3 percent, or 648,050 adults. An estimated 10.2 percent of Colorado children did not have health insurance in 2009, representing 124,366 kids. Private insurance policies remain the most common way of getting health insurance, at 71.3 percent of Colorado’s population, while 22.4 percent of the population relies on public health coverage. (Figure 8)
Contact: Alec Harris
303-573-5669, ext. 316
Deputy project director
303-573-5669, ext. 303
Released Sept. 29, 2010
Updated Oct. 5, 2010
i The poverty rate is the percentage of individuals with annual incomes below the federal poverty level. In 2010 the federal poverty level is defined as an annual income of $10,830 for an individual and $22,050 for a family of four.
ii A lack of a statistically significant change may result from either a small change in estimate or small sample size.