Economy
6:39 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Pittsburgh Poverty Rate Up But Lower Than National Average

The Pittsburgh poverty level rose 1.4 percentage points to 12.2 percent in the last decade according to U.S. Census data from 2010 That means roughly 279,000 people in the Pittsburgh area now live in poverty.

Nationally, the figures are worse. The recession in the latter half of the last decade increased the poverty rate to 15.1 percent, or 43.6 million people, the highest it's been since 1993. Pennsylvania as a whole has 13.4 percent of its population living in poverty.

Mark Price, a labor economist for Keystone Research Center, explained why the poverty rate in Pittsburgh is lower than the national average.

"[Pittsburgh] is a large urban area with a very diverse economy and you've actually also been quite fortunate that the recession hasn't battered your economy as badly it has many other places," Price said.

He said that the poor economy has put pressure on families, especially in those where one or more spouses has lost a job.

"We've gone through two recessions with the one we just came out of being very deep and very severe," Price said. "And that's put a lot of pressure on family finances and in particular people who got hit hard by the recessions. Maybe they lost a job or both spouses lost a job. You're seeing more people fall below the poverty line."

The poverty line is considered $22,350 yearly income for a family of four or $10,890 for a single person.