in Houston, Texas
High poverty, low welfare use in Texas
Thursday, Oct 27, 2011, 11:33AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Lone Star card

Texas has one of the highest poverty rates and one of the lowest rates of public assistance use in the country, according to two briefs by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Texas, which ranked 9th in poverty and 45th in welfare use, is among several states - Alabama and Arkansas are two others - where poverty is much higher and public assistance much lower than the national average, a story about the reports by Stateline today says.

And while that might make taxpayers smile, the numbers have social welfare advocates wringing their hands raw. The findings might indicate there is less real need for public assistance, or it might mean those states are doing a bad job reaching the people who need government help, Elizabeth Lower-Basch with the Center for Law and Social Policy told Stateline.

Nationwide, 46.2 million Americans, 15.3 percent of the population, lived below the poverty level while 3.3 million people or 2.9 percent of the population took welfare in 2010, according to the census data.

Mississippi had the highest poverty rate, 22.4 percent, followed by New Mexico, Alabama, Kentucky and Arkansas. Texas’ poverty rate is 17.9 percent. Louisiana had the lowest welfare use, 1.4 percent, followed by Alabama, Wyoming, Arkansas, and South Carolina, then Texas tied with Georgia and Virginia at 1.9 percent.

Oddly, Alaska was tied for the second lowest poverty rate in the country at 9.9 percent, but had by far the highest welfare use at 6.7 percent. Maine, Vermont, Washington and Michigan were the others with the highest use of assistance.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Lone Star card logo from Texas state Health and Human Services Commission. Like a debit card, the Lone Star card is used to access food stamps and cash benefits, or welfare.
Saturday, 10/29/2011 - 06:32PM

there is a third possibility you know mark. It could be that most of those poor are not legally elgible for "assistance" to begin with because they are in the country illegally.

Stevve Chadwick
Sunday, 10/30/2011 - 09:26AM

If Texas would open up more jobs to legal residents maybe the rate would be better. If Texas enforced the illegal deportation laws, maybe Texas poverty rates would be better because of more jobs. If TEXAS would stop increasing taxes on property and better management of available funds, then I know the poverty rate would decrease. The GREED of Texas management officials is ...... well, you decide.

cynthia curran
Wednesday, 03/14/2012 - 07:08PM

Actually a study shown that Texas uses a lot of welfare in two areas a lot of free and reduce lunch programs and emergency health care, Texas is up in Welfare compared to a lot of states because of a high hispanics population.

lorena saucedo
Thursday, 12/06/2012 - 09:50AM

I think we should stop blaminng the victim which are the poor and start making our politician accountable for what they are bringing to those who elected them. Unfortunatly, there is more corruption in Texas than what we think and the poor are too busy trying to work for a living that they dont see the truth of their reality

cynthia curran
Monday, 01/07/2013 - 07:02PM

Vermont actually has a lower use of welfare if the free and reduce lunch programs and emergency health care are included. The Center for Immirgation studies which includes these programs shows Vermont actually below Texas and California in welfare use. The illegal and legal immirgants in both Texas and California are heavily users of WIc, Emergency Health care and free and reduce lunch programs. Liberals should use that a white middle class state has lower welfare use than either blue or red minority states instead of we have more liberal which Vermont and Maine do not if you include the programs above.

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