May 9, 2023

Census Bureau: New Report Released About Persistent Poverty at County and Census Tract Levels

Today the U.S. Census Bureau released a new report, “Persistent Poverty in Counties and Census Tracts.” While definitions vary, geographies are typically considered to be in persistent poverty if they maintained poverty rates of 20% or more for 30 years.

The report examines county and subcounty geographies (specifically, census tracts), identifying additional populations that may benefit from targeted intervention. It explores census tracts over the same 30-year period (1989 to 2015-2019) as counties allowing for a more direct comparison.

Counties in Persistent Poverty: 1989 to 2015 - 2019

Research suggests that people living in higher poverty areas experience more acute systemic problems (such as limited access to medical services, healthy and affordable food, quality education and civic engagement opportunities) than those in lower poverty areas. Government agencies and researchers have previously identified counties with high rates of poverty over an extended period as targets for increased levels of support.

To identify geographies in persistent poverty, this report incorporates poverty estimates from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses and the 2005–2009 and 2015-2019 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates. Other governmental agencies have alternative definitions of persistent poverty for programmatic purposes and examples of such are described in this new report.

Persistent poverty is different from and should not be confused with chronicpoverty. Chronic poverty identifies individuals and families consistently in poverty over time; persistent poverty in this report focuses on geographic locations that had high poverty rates for an extended time.

Report highlights:

Future work will focus on creating more precise populations in persistent poverty and examining common demographic and economic variables of identified counties and census tracts. Additional ACS data on poverty are available at

This post was originally published here.