Kentucky's 2012 poverty rate increased to 19.4 percent

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comljohnson1@herald-leader.comSeptember 19, 2013 

Poverty rates increased in Kentucky in 2012 and the state had one of the top five poverty rates in the United States at 19.4 percent, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The poverty rate for Kentuckians ages 18 to 64 increased from 17.6 in 2011 to 18.3 in 2012. The rate in 2008 was 15.7.

The Bureau's American Community Survey, an ongoing statistical survey that samples a percentage of the population every year, also estimated that one in four children in Kentucky live in poverty.

"The ACS report reminds us again of the serious challenge Kentucky faces when it comes to the economic security of its citizens. Many hard-working families are not able to make ends meet, and those economics negatively impact children in our state," said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Child poverty in Kentucky increased to 26.5 percent in 2012 from 23.5 percent in 2008.

For a family of four with two children to be living in poverty in 2012, their annual income had to be less than $23,283.

The estimated poverty rate for adults 18-64 in Fayette County, 18.9 percent, was not a statistically significant difference in 2012 than it was in 2011. However, it had increased from 14.8 percent in 2008.

The survey's estimates showed that Kentucky was one of only three states to see a statistically significant increase in the rate of private health- insurance coverage from 2010 to 2012. The rate of people with private health insurance rose from 79.8 percent in 2010 to 80.7 percent in 2012. In Fayette County, the rate rose from 68.5 percent in 2010 to 73.2 percent in 2012.

Ron Crouch, director of research at the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said the survey also showed a shift from manufacturing jobs to health-care and education jobs.

In 2012, there were 254,338 manufacturing jobs, or 13.6 percent of all jobs in Kentucky. There were 454,901 health-care and education jobs, which was 24.4 percent of all jobs in Kentucky, he said.

In 2008, there were 285,223 manufacturing jobs which was 15 percent of all jobs in Kentucky. In that year there were 427,784 health-care and education jobs or 22.4 percent of all jobs in Kentucky, Crouch said.

Crouch said he thought the Affordable Health Care Act was "going to create more jobs in health care and that's going to benefit East Kentucky even more dramatically as they lose coal mining jobs. I think the new employment sector in East Kentucky is going to be in health-care jobs."

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears

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