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Study: Poverty declines with education

COEUR d’ALENE – Newly released Census figures for Kootenai County show a strong correlation between education and earnings.

“Education reduces the chance of being poor,” said Kathryn Tacke, regional economist in the Idaho Department of Labor’s Coeur d’Alene office, noting an inverse relationship between higher levels of education and earnings.

About 9 percent of Kootenai County’s population age 25 and older lives below the poverty level, according to the 2005 Census.

However, nearly 19 percent of high school dropouts live in poverty. For those who graduate from high school, the poverty rate is 11.4 percent. Poverty levels dropped to 6.8 percent for individuals with a two-year college degree, and to 4.4 percent for those with a bachelor’s or graduate degree.

The Census figures also show that women in Kootenai County are more likely to live in poverty than men. For males 25 and older, 8.1 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. Among females 25 and older, 9.9 percent of the population lives below the poverty level.

Tacke said a higher percentage of women are poor because more of them are raising children alone. Women also tend to work fewer hours and earn less per hour than men. In addition, many women outlive their husbands and may have reduced incomes due to the loss of their husband’s earnings or retirement benefits, Tacke said.