Salt Lake City—Data released by the Census Bureau today show that the Utah poverty rate—11.3% in 2015—has not changed significantly since 2014. The Utah poverty rate remains higher than it was before the 2008-2009 recession, when 9.6% of Utahns were in poverty. Children were even more likely to be in poverty, with 12.9% of Utah children below the poverty line, similar to the 2014 rate of 13.3%. That means that approximately 116,000 Utah kids are living in poverty.
While there was no change in the percent of Utahns in poverty, median income did rise, from $60,979 in 2014 to $62,912 in 2015. The improvement in median income in Utah mirrors improvement across the nation. However, there was also a statistically significant decline in the percent of people in poverty nationally, which was not the case in Utah.
“We could combat poverty in Utah by creating a state Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Matthew Weinstein of Voices for Utah Children. Twenty-six states, not including Utah, have a state EITC to prevent working people from being taxed into poverty, letting them keep more of what they earn.
The Gini index is a standard economic measure of income inequality. As of 2015, Utah has the nation’s lowest Gini Index, meaning there is not as big a difference between the incomes of the poorest Utahns and the richest Utahns as there is elsewhere in the nation.
For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.
How can you be involved?
Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more. Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!
We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.
Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year.