In December of last year, the U.S. Census Bureau released its most recent American Community Survey data, including five-year estimates of county-level poverty rates from 2013–2017, and some areas of Missouri appear to be struggling. While poverty in the southeast corner of Missouri—the bootheel—has been high for some time now, Mississippi County’s child poverty rate—the percentage of children whose family’s income is below the federal poverty line—was estimated at over 50 percent during the five-year period.
About 1,500 children and 3,800 people total live in poverty in Mississippi County, and it has Missouri’s highest overall poverty rate at 31.7 percent. In other words, one of every two kids and one of every three people in this county are living below the federal poverty line, which was $24,600 in annual income for a family of four in 2017.
Even if you take into account the large (±9.1 percentage points) margin of error for Mississippi County’s child poverty rate, in the best-case scenario it would have a child poverty rate of 41.8 percent—which would still be the second highest child poverty rate in the state. If you want to see the latest data on the rest of the state, check out these interactive maps.
While the state’s overall poverty rate is decreasing, pockets of poverty like Mississippi County should not be ignored. In a pair of forthcoming essays, I explore the consequences for the rest of the state of having such areas of poverty. For now, Missourians should at least be aware that some parts of the state are faring much worse than others.