Poverty Level in Twin States

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Over 17 percent of Mississippi residents lived below the poverty level last year, according to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The figure represents about 464,000 people.

The state's population is 2.7 million. The poverty figure is down by 1.6 percentage points from 2002, but it still tied Mississippi with Louisiana for the third-highest poverty rate in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau determines poverty based on a household's size and income. The threshold for a family of four is $18,810. The state's median income was $32,159, a 2.2 percent increase over the previous year's $31,466.

The report also indicates Alabama's household income remains among the lowest in the country.

The latest numbers show the state has a smaller percentage of residents without health insurance than the national average, but the census figures for the three-year period ending Dec. 31, 2003, showed Alabama's poverty rate was 15.1 percent, eighth highest in the country.

Alabama's median household income was $37,419, eighth lowest in the country and well below the national rate of $43,527. The national poverty rate was 12.1 percent.

On a brighter note, Alabama has a smaller percentage of people living without health insurance than the national average. The Census figures showed Alabama was 27th in the country with 13.3 percent of its residents having no health insurance, compared to 15.2 percent nationwide.