Rogue Valley Poverty Rates Improved in 2019

by Guy Tauer

January 6, 2021

Recently released poverty rates from the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Program show continuing improvement in the share of the Rogue Valley population living in poverty. The all age poverty rate declined from 14.8% in 2018 to 13.6% in 2019 in Jackson County. Josephine County’s poverty rate, while still higher than Jackson’s, also declined over the year from 17.0% to 15.9%. Jackson County’s poverty rate most recently peaked in 2011 at 19.7%. Josephine’s rate peaked in 2012 at 22.2%. Both counties’ rates have trended lower since those peaks just after the end of the Great Recession.

It’s important to keep in mind that these are estimates. At the 90% confidence interval, the Census Bureau shows Jackson County’s poverty rate for 2019 between 11.6% and 15.6%. While the poverty rate did decline from 2018 to 2019, it’s possible it did not decline as much as the headline figure shows.

An estimated 29,613 Jackson County residents lived in poverty in 2019. Back in 1998, when the poverty rate was estimated at a similar level of 14.7%, there were an estimated 25,870 residents living in poverty. So while the rates trended down in recent years, the number of people who need assistance or services is about 15% higher than in 1998 due to population growth. In Josephine County, an estimated 13,663 residents lived in poverty in 2019, down from 14,655 the year before. Rogue Valley poverty rates declined from their recent peak and were essentially back to the low point seen in the 1998-2007 decade.
Youth Poverty Rates

The Census Bureau also provides poverty rate estimates for youth, for those ages 18 and under and the typical school-age population for those ages five to 17. Turning to the 18 and under age group, the rates are higher than for the overall population. Declines in the poverty rates were estimated for both Rogue Valley counties from 2018 to 2019. Jackson County’s overall youth poverty rate fell from 21.0% in 2018 to 18.0% in 2019. Josephine’s youth poverty rate fell from 25.2% to 23.4%. Youth poverty rates were close to their 20-year low points, and at the 90% confidence level range, essentially equal to those low points going back two decades.
Median Household Income

The Rogue Valley saw rising median household income between 2018 and 2019. Jackson’s median household income rose from $55,511 in 2018 to $56,367 in 2019, an increase of 1.5%. Josephine County saw a gain with median household income rising from $46,578 to $47,533 or an increase of 2.0%. Oregon’s median household income rose from $63,168 to $66,955 in 2019, a gain of 6.0%. As the global pandemic hit the economy in 2020, it’s likely the 2020 figures will be knocked a bit off course from these improving trends in recent years.
For more information and data for other areas see: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/saipe.html.


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