More than one in six Floridians are living poverty — the highest it has been in more than a decade, according to Census figures released this week.
Sixteen percent of Floridians were below the poverty level in 2010, up from 14.6 percent in 2009 reflecting a continuation of a steady climb in recent years. Florida’s 2010 rate is the highest it has been since 1995 when it was 16.2 percent.
Florida’s poverty rate was slightly above the nation’s official poverty rate of 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 and the third consecutive annual increase, according to the Census bureau. That rate was the highest since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available, according to the Census bureau.
The poverty information was based on a survey of about 100,000 households and is used to set the national poverty rate. Later in September the census bureau will release more detailed poverty information through the American Community Survey based on a survey of about three million households. That information will include poverty rates for large cities including Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
The census data reflects the first full calendar year after the December 2007-June 2009 recession.
"Given the state of the economy the last couple of years, you would expect the poverty rate to increase nationwide and in Florida," Stefan Rayer, a research demographer at the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida, said in an email. "While the 2010 poverty rate in Florida is higher than during the last decade, there were several years since 1980 when the rate was higher still (16.2 in 1995, 17.8 in 1993, 16.6 in 1981, and 16.7 in 1980). ... When the national poverty rate is high, Florida’s poverty rate is often somewhat higher but lower than that of other states in the South."