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Nationwide and close to home, poverty tightens its grip

Graphic: Income and poverty figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
Graphic: Income and poverty figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

Incomes fell last year as more sought help

U.S. Census Bureau data reflect what everyone knows: The recession that persisted in 2009 bit into pay and benefits, and cut jobs.

Poverty rates rose and food stamps were issued to more Americans, according to the bureau’s 2009 Community Surveys, released Tuesday.

In Idaho the poverty rate reached 14.3 percent of the population, or 216,115 people. The take-home pay of Idaho families dropped nearly 5 percent to $44,926 last year – one of the steepest declines in the country.

The Washington numbers were grim, too. Household income fell 1.7 percent, to $56,548, in 2009.

And an additional 73,122 people across the state are now living in poverty, according to the West Coast Poverty Center at the University of Washington.

The Census Bureau also found that women earn less than men. Though the report did not include compensation for comparable work, a wage gap remains.

In Idaho, for example, the median income for women was $29,122, but it was $40,440 for men.

Washington women earned a median income of $38,521, while men earned $51,305.



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