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Sunday, September 22, 2013

At least we're not in Maine

RI has not moved needle on poverty, uninsured

Rhode Island hasn’t moved the needle for people living in poverty, according to an analysis of new Census data by the Economic Progress Institute.

The Ocean State still has the second highest poverty rate in New England, behind only Maine, with 13.7 percent of residents living below the poverty standard. There are nearly 140,000 Rhode Islanders who earn less than $19,090 in 2012 and more than 62,000 Rhode Islanders earned less than $10,000.
Neighbors Connecticut and Massachusetts boast considerably lower poverty rates at 10.7 and 11.9 percents respectively.

“Stagnant income and unchanged poverty rates underscore the need for Rhode Island to do more to improve the economic vitality of our state and its residents, especially our African American and Latino neighbors,” said Kate Brewster, executive director of the Economic Progress Institute.

One third of Rhode Island Latinos were living in poverty in 2012 as were more than one-fourth of African Americans. Less than 10 percent of White Rhode Islanders were impoverished.

Rhode Island should make educating its current and future workforce the cornerstone of its economic development strategy,”  Brewster said.

Affordable housing, childcare assistance, support for the food bank and payday loan reform are also needed to reverse this trend, Brewster said.

Similarly, the number of uninsured Rhode Islanders remained stagnant with some 125,000 residents without health coverage in 2012. The Ocean State has the highest rate of uninsured residents in New England. Massachusetts has the lowest rate of uninsured residents in the nation at 4.3 percent and Connecticut has the fourth lowest at 9.4 percent.

Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.