(09/20/2010)
West Virginia has been behind the loop to feel the pain of the national financial collapse, but it will soon be catching up.

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, in a report just released, said new data to be released on September 28 shows that the recession will push more Mountain State residents into poverty.

In 2009 approximately 38 million more Americans fell into poverty during last year.

CPS figures released last week says that approximately 15.2 percent or 273,000 West Virginians were poor, an increase of 0.5 percent or 13,000 from the previous estimate.

The new poverty group is among those described as the "working poor," or blue-collar workers whose jobs no longer exist.

"The 2009 increase may be smaller than anticipated because of West Virginia's slower entrance into the recession than other states," said the center.

Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy said that total employment in West Virginia has continued to decline in 2010 to its lowest point since January 1994.

The center says of additional concern is the percent of West Virginians living under 200 percent of poverty.

Using data from Workforce WV's Self-Sufficiency Standard, families of all sizes and types need an income of about 200 percent of poverty to cover the costs of basic necessities, including housing, food, child care, and education.

The number of West Virginians falling below this threshold has remained fairly constant over the past decade, accounting for approximately 35 percent of the state's population.

"These individuals are not counted in the official poverty rate, yet they highlight the reality that many West Virginians live on income insufficient for true economic security," said Elizabeth Paulhus, policy analyst at the Center.

On September 28, the Census Bureau will release data from the American Community Survey (ACS) for even small communities of less than 20,000 people.

Immediately following the release of the ACS data, the Center will release a report that analyzes poverty data by race, gender, and location.

Poverty among children in WV, while improving over the years, has been at 30% or more in the state's rural counties.


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