Inside a tiny home on the Aurora stretch of Highway 99.
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Inside a tiny home on the Aurora stretch of Highway 99.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Poor are getting poorer in Washington state, Census shows

The national poverty rate is in decline. But the poverty people are experiencing has become more severe, according to the Census Bureau.

Last year 12.3 percent of Americans were poor, continuing a decline that’s been underway for a few years.

It’s the same number as in 1975. But a lot has changed about poverty since then: It’s gotten much deeper.

In 1975, 30 percent of the poor were in extreme poverty – they earned less than half of the poverty level income at that time.

But in 2017, that number had risen to 47 percent.

They're living on less than half of the poverty threshold, which was $24,800 last year.

Here’s why this is important for Washington state: 440,000 people here report that they make less than $10,000 a year, according to the Department of Revenue. That's extreme poverty.

The Census Bureau’s 2017 data presented more evidence of the spread of inequality in the country.

The median household income was up 3 percent. That’s because the economy and society rewarded men. Women’s earnings were unchanged.

Earnings by African-American households had been heading up. But that progress stalled in 2017.

As the Economic Policy Institute observed, the Census data showed “well-worn patterns of inequality” yet again.

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