teacherken's excellent diary on race and poverty got me thinking. I made a comment there which I reproduce below the fold, and I wanted to expand on it more than was appropriate there.
I explore the dimensions of poverty in different parts of the United States, both states and counties, with an eye toward broadening our conception of who is poor, and where they are.
My comment was titled "Yet the media ignore Whites who are poor" and it ran
When you read about poverty in the mainstream media, it is portrayed, almost always, as an inner city problem; and, in the inner city, it is hugely a Black and Latino problem.
The suburban and (even more) rural poor are given less attention. And the rural poor are overwhelmingly White.
I think this plays into the worldviews of both liberals and conservatives. Liberals ignore the rural poor because they run counter to the stereotype of poverty being exclusively a product of racism and inter-racial inequity (it is surely PARTLY a product of those things, but not ENTIRELY). Conservatives ignore the rural poor so that it can be made to seem a problem of the 'other' - that is, the Black and Latinos living in the inner city. Making some group into the 'other' makes it much easier to ignore them.
A similar pattern exists with reporting on drug abuse.
Well, I like data. And the census collects some great data.
Of the counties in New York City, the poorest (which I will use as a synonym for 'highest percentage in poverty') is the Bronx. 27.3% are below poverty level, and the median household income is $35,108. And 12.7% are White non-Latino.
Then there's Washington County, ME. The median income is even lower, at $31,856, and 20.1% are below poverty level. And 92.1% are White non-Latino.
Many of the poorest counties are in the Dakotas, and contain huge proportions of American Indians, and are almost purely rural. But Clay County, KY has a median HH income of $22,365, 38.3% are below poverty level, and 92.5% are White non-Latino; and there are similar stories elsewhere in Appalachia, in places like McCreary County, KY (35% below poverty).
In fact, of the 100 poorest counties I don't think any are urban.