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Poverty in the Second District Summary

Recent research has highlighted the importance of looking beyond the overall poverty rate in a city or county to the concentration of poverty in particular neighborhoods and communities.1 In addition to summary data for the district, therefore, we provide detailed maps of areas of concentrated poverty.



Census Bureau Definition of Poverty

We follow the U.S. Census Bureau’s measure of poverty levels.

The Census Bureau uses a set of income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty; a family is considered to be in poverty if its total income is less than the appropriate Census threshold.

The Census thresholds are adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). They do not reflect regional differences in the cost of living. For 2005, the poverty threshold for a single parent with two children was $15,735; the threshold for a two-parent family of four was $19,806.

The table below reports the 2005 poverty rates, number of persons in poverty and shares of the district’s poverty population for geographies in the Second District. The rates for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 44.9 and 32.5 percent, respectively, are substantially higher than the rates for even the poorest U.S. states.2 At the same time, the 13.8 percent poverty rate for residents in New York State represents more than 2.5 million people in poverty, more than half of the district’s poor. New York State and Puerto Rico together account for 87 percent of the district's 4.9 million poor.

Second District Poverty Rates in 2005
 
 
Poverty Rate (Percent)
Number of Persons (in Thousands)
Share of the Second District's Poverty Population (Percent)
 
 
State of New York
13.8
2,566
52
 
 
Northern New Jersey*
8.8
514
11
 
 
Fairfield County, CT
7.3
64
1
 
 
Puerto Rico
44.9
1,718
35
 
 
U.S. Virgin Islands (Census 2000)
32.5
35
1
 

*Northern New Jersey includes the following 12 counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren. Accordingly, the poverty rate reported for these northern New Jersey counties is a weighted average of the rates for these counties.

Source: American Community Survey 2005, U.S. Census Bureau, except for the data for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was drawn from the “Population and Housing Profile: 2000,” OFFSITE PDF 2000 Census of Population and Housing, issued May 2003.

In the maps below, areas of concentrated poverty are identified using the convention employed by the Census Bureau, allowing for ease of comparison with Census and other published research on concentrated poverty. According to the Census, an area is determined to have "concentrated" poverty when the percentage of persons with incomes below the poverty threshold is 40 percent or more. Areas where between 20 percent and 39 percent of persons have incomes below the poverty threshold are considered moderately poor, and areas where less than 20 percent of persons have incomes below the poverty threshold are considered non-poverty areas. Since these determinations are based on tract-level data available only in the decennial Census, all maps are based on Census 2000 data. The concentration of poverty in New York; northern New Jersey; Fairfield County, Connecticut; and Puerto Rico are displayed in Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively.

Figure 1
Percentage of New York State Population in Poverty by Census Tract, 2000


Source: Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration.

Figure 2
Percentage of Northern New Jersey Population in Poverty by Census Tract, 2000


Source: Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration.

Figure 3
Percentage of Fairfield County, Connecticut, Population in Poverty by Census Tract, 2000


Source: Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration.

Figure 4
Percentage of Puerto Rico Population in Poverty by Census Tract, 2000


Source: Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration.

The chart below shows the shares of the poverty population that live in concentrated poverty in New York State; northern New Jersey; Fairfield County, Connecticut; and Puerto Rico. In 2000, 85 percent of the poor in Puerto Rico lived in areas of "concentrated poverty," that is, with a poverty rate of 40 percent or higher. In comparison, the figure was 19 percent for New York State, 8 percent for northern New Jersey and 5 percent for Fairfield County.

Distribution of Poverty Population by Concentration of Poverty in 2000


Source: Census 2000, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration.

Contact: Yazmin Osaki at (212) 720-1597 or yazmin.osaki@ny.frb.org

Endnotes
_______________________
1U.S. Census Bureau, "Areas With Concentrated Poverty: 1999," OFFSITE PDF U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, issued July 2005. See also U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census Statistical Brief, Poverty Areas. Examples of research employing the U.S. Bureau of the Census methodology are: Paul Jargowsky, "Stunning Progress, Hidden Problems: The Dramatic Decline of Concentrated Poverty in the 1990s," Brookings Institution, Living Cities Census Series, May 2003; and Alan Berube and Bruce Katz, "Katrina's Window: Confronting Concentrated Poverty Across America," Special Analysis in Metropolitan Policy, Brookings Institution, October 2005.
2The poverty rate reported for the U.S. Virgin Islands is for 2000, the latest year for which this statistic is available. Mississippi's poverty rate of 21.3 percent was the highest of the 50 states in 2005. American Community Survey 2005, U.S. Census Bureau.

 

December 2006