President Lyndon B. Johnson went to eastern Kentucky in 1964 to promote his War on Poverty. But when he did, he opened a wound that remains raw today. People in the region say they're tired of always being depicted as poor, so when NPR's Pam Fessler went to Appalachia to report on how the War on Poverty is going, she was warned that people would be reluctant to talk. Instead, she got an earful.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show Kentucky with one of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. The figures are part of the bureau’s latest American Community Survey which was released Thursday.
Kentucky had the fifth-highest percentage of residents living in poverty in 2012, behind only Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. A little more than 823,000 Kentuckians, or 19.4 percent of the state’s population, suffer through poverty. That represents a 0.3 percent increase in the commonwealth’s poverty rate since 2011.
By comparison, Tennessee’s poverty rate stood at 17.9 percent in 2012, an improvement of 0.4 percent over 2011. The poverty rate in Indiana was 15.6 percent, which was also an improvement of 0.4 percent.
There was at least one bit of good news for the Bluegrass State in the latest survey. Kentucky is one of just three states to see a statistically significant increase in the rate of private health insurance coverage from 2010 to 2012.
You can see a report containing the latest American Community Survey data on poverty in the U.S here.
A new report shows one in four Kentucky children lives in poverty, with their numbers growing since 2005. The latest Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana in the bottom half of states for overall child well-being.
A group of about twenty WKU students are participating in a homelessness simulation this weekend. They met at the Garrett Conference Center on the WKU campus last night to start the activity. Organizers say those who participate are learning about the realities of poverty in the world.