February 04, 2014

The reality of poverty in red states

The Dallas Morning News has a good piece here about poverty in the Metroplex and other major metropolitan areas in Texas.

It makes references to a claim, or claims, spouted by many conservatives, namely that because Texas' cost of living, or red states' cost of living, is lower than that of blue states, talking about high poverty rates is unfair.

Like this:
(T)here are (those) who argue that federal poverty statistics make things look worse in Dallas than they really are.

Labor economist Pia M. Orrenius, vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said even many cities with lower poverty rates than Dallas have much higher costs of living, making it harder in those places to make ends meet.
And this:
In 2012, about 1 in 4 Dallas city residents lived in poverty or about 260,000 people. For a family of four with two children, that meant earning less than about $24,000.

Life for them is in some ways easier than it would be in other large cities, where housing, groceries and other necessities can be much higher. Even the weather can be gentler in Dallas, and (Dallas Mayor Mike) Rawlings and others argue that Dallas’ private sector agencies working for the poor are “second to none.”
Tis true, indirectly, or it sounds like it. Texas is certainly no New York, California or Connecticut. It's not even an Illinois. That said, Texas' minimum wage is the same as the US minimum. Most blue states, or at least the big blue metropolises inside them, have local or state minimums at least $1 an hour above the national. (That doesn't excuse increasing income inequality in a New York City or San Francisco, though.)

And a state that takes this all into account:
A Texas family of four who is eligible for food stamps, now known as the SNAP program, can expect $261 a month in assistance. The same family in California, New York, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Vermont can expect more than $600. And in Alaska, the benefit is more than $900.
So much for cheap food, eh?

As for housing costs? Tight land drives part of that in blue states.

So does people wanting to be their on their own, rather than having forced moves from their jobs. Add those two together, and that's part of why Austin costs are higher than DFW or Houston, here in Tejas.

More proof that it's something in the water here?
Compared with Dallas, other cities with a higher share of immigrants and higher unemployment report lower poverty rates. In Los Angeles, Hispanics account for 48 percent of the population, and almost 50 percent of residents there are immigrants. In Phoenix, 40 percent of residents are Hispanic and 1 in 5 is an immigrant.

Los Angeles and Phoenix — as well as Chicago and Charlotte — have lower poverty rates than in Dallas, even though Dallas has fewer of its residents out of work.
So, we can't have wingnuts blaming "lazy Mezcans" for this problem.

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