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N.D.’s Poverty Rate Unchanged

Certain populations in North Dakota continue to struggle with higher than average poverty rates.

An estimated 11.5 percent of North Dakotans were living in poverty in 2008, a rate relatively unchanged during the past 10 years.

This proportion is equivalent to approximately 71,000 people in North Dakota who were impoverished in 2008.

“It is unfortunate that although our state’s economy is very robust due to energy development activity, we have not been able to reduce poverty within the state during the past 10 years,” said Richard Rathge, North Dakota State Data Center director at North Dakota State University. “Although 11.5 percent, or 71,000 impoverished North Dakotans, may not sound like many to some, but one may think differently if told that this number is larger than the second largest city in North Dakota, which is Bismarck, with more than 60,000 people.”

Poverty thresholds are updated annually by the U.S. Census Bureau and vary by family size and number of children. In 2008, the poverty threshold for one person was $10,991 and $21,834 for a family of four with two children under the age of 18.

This month’s “Population Bulletin,” a monthly publication from the North Dakota State Data Center, focuses on poverty estimates released from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program through the U.S. Census Bureau. SAIPE provides annual estimates of the number and percentage of adults and children living in poverty. These estimates are based on a sample of households.

Due to the relatively small population base in North Dakota and the need to keep costs of data collection manageable, the sample sizes for the state are relatively small, which increases the likelihood of error. Confidence intervals are calculated to account for this sampling error.

For example, SAIPE estimates indicate that 11.5 percent of all North Dakotans were living in poverty in 2008. However, if one wants to be 90 percent confident of the true poverty level, one should use a range from 11 percent to 12 percent.

Certain populations in North Dakota continue to struggle with higher than average poverty rates.

Children have a greater likelihood of living in poverty than the general public. The percentage of North Dakota children ages 0 to 17 living in poverty was estimated at 14.2 percent in 2008. The percentage of children ages 0 to 4 living in poverty was 18.2 percent and the percentage of children ages 5 to 17 living in families below poverty was 11.9 percent.

In addition, poverty rates in North Dakota were notably higher in Native American reservation areas, with Sioux, Benson and Rolette counties having more than one in four people living in poverty in 2008.

When making important decisions based on these data, one needs to be mindful of the confidence intervals (13.1 percent to 15.3 percent for North Dakota children ages 0 to 17, 16.4 percent to 19.9 percent for children ages 0 to 4 and 10.5 percent to 13.3 percent for children ages 5 to 17).

Nationally, 13.2 percent of the population was living in poverty in 2008. Of those, 18.2 percent of children ages 0 to 17 were living in poverty and 21.2 percent of children ages 0 to 4 were living in poverty. The 90 percent confidence intervals are 13.1 percent to 13.3 percent, 18 percent to 18.4 percent and 20.9 percent to 21.5 percent, respectively.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Richard Rathge, (701) 231-8621,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
Poverty Rates by County Preview
(0202 population bulletin.pdf - 1.18 Mb)
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