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New Census Figures Pinpoint Indiana Hunger, Poverty

Posted On October 10, 2017

By Veronica Carter, Indiana News Service

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – While the number of people applying for federal nutrition assistance has dropped slightly in Indiana, more than 14 percent of Hoosiers are still living in poverty, according to the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

More than 950,000 are food insecure – meaning they’re not always sure they’ll have enough to eat – and one-third of those are children.

Jessica Fraser, executive director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families, says incomes have grown in the state, but poverty numbers haven’t changed much, which means most of the growth in the last decade was at the top.

“The wage gap widened between men and women, some of our racial wage gaps widened,” she points out. “When you put 2007’s median household income in real dollars, we’re still down about 2,600 bucks from 2007’s median household income.”

The report says nearly 40 of Indiana’s counties have food insecurity rates of 20 percent or more. It lists Indiana’s current median income as just over $52,000, and says more than 8 percent of Hoosiers have no health insurance.

Fraser maintains Indiana’s current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour needs to be increased.

She adds seniors and parents who can’t put enough food on the table don’t care what the numbers say – they can’t make ends meet.

“It doesn’t matter if a home in Indiana is more affordable than a home in California,” she stresses. “If you still can’t afford the home in Indiana, it doesn’t really matter to you. You know, we still have 2 million Hoosiers who are not earning enough to be economically self-sufficient. That’s a third of our population.”

The report found people who identify as black or African-American, individuals with disabilities, adults with less than a high school education, and single parent households face considerably higher poverty rates than the state average.