Mississippi

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Below is a set of key data indicators related to poverty. For the original sources, click on the data point.

Poverty by demographic

  • Child poverty rate: 35%
  • Senior poverty rate: 18%
  • Women in poverty: 23.9%
  • Percent of single-parent families with related children that are below poverty: 47%
  • Number of Black children below 200% poverty: 253,000

Economic well-being

  • Poverty rate: 24.2%
  • Extreme poverty rate: 10.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 9%
  • Food insecurity: 20.9%
  • Low-income families that work: 43.6%
  • Minimum Wage: N/A
  • Percent of jobs that are low-wage: 35.5%
  • Percent of individuals who are uninsured: 19%
  • Number of Black children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment: 167,000

Family

  • Teen birth rate per 1,000: 55
  • Children living in single parent families: 46%
  • Children in foster care: 3,582
  • Percent of children in immigrant families: 3%
  • Number of grandparents raising grandchildren: 87,717

Assets

  • Asset poverty rate: 30.4%
  • Unbanked households: 15.1%
  • Average college graduate debt: $27,322

Education

  • Individuals with a high school degree: 81%
  • Individuals with a four year college degree: 20.7%
  • Teens ages 16 to 19 not attending school and not working: 13%
  • Percent of college students with debt: 57%
  • High school graduation rate: 63.8%

Housing

  • Total households: 1,085,062
  • Renters: 29%
  • Households paying more than 30% of income on housing: 142,518
  • Homeless people: 2,413
  • Home foreclosure rate: 2.33%

Justice System

  • Number of youth residing in juvenile justice and correctional facilities: 413
  • Total incarcerated (prison and jail): 22,319

Participation in federal programs

  • Adults and children receiving welfare (TANF): 23,290
  • Children receiving food stamps (SNAP): 284,000
  • EITC recipients: 399,000
  • Households receiving federal rental assistance: 62,074
  • Families receiving child care subsidies: 10,400
  • Participants in all Head Start programs: 30,329
  • Number of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP: 550,703
  • Number of women and children receiving WIC (Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program): 91,652
  • Households receiving LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program): 65,526

State governments play a significant role in developing policies that help support low-income families. Below is a list of some key Mississippi policies and a link to an  organization that tracks the issue.

Tax & Asset-Building Policy

Family and Work Supports

Below is a list of reports about poverty and opportunity in the state. If you have a state report you’d like featured on this page, please email Tamanna@thehatchergroup.com.


Tax & Budget Policy

More Cuts Prescribed for FY2012 in Joint Legislative Budget Committee Recommendation

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, December 2010

Revenue Options for Mississippi's Fiscal Crisis

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, December 2010

Options for a State Child Care Tax Credit in Mississippi

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, August 2010

Asset-Building

The State of Poverty and Opportunity in Mississippi

Half in Ten, October 2011

Making Mississippi Competitive: Solutions for Building Assets in Low-Wealth Communities

Mississippi Economic Policy Center and the Foundation for the Mid South, 2011

State Profile: Mississippi

CFED, 2012

Asset Poverty Profile: Mississippi

CFED, 2012

Families & Children

2010/2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book Mississippi

Mississippi KIDS COUNT, 2011

One in 6 Mississippi Households Suffered Food Insecurity During 2009

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, November 2010

Poverty Increases in Mississippi as Families Continue to Experience Economic Hardship during Current Recession

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, September 2010

Extension of Key Federal Stimulus Program Vital to Protect Mississippi’s Economic Recovery

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, June 2010

Magnitude of Job Loss Supports Unemployment Insurance Reform

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, April 2010

Education

A Stronger Nation through Higher Education: Mississippi

Lumina Foundation, March 2012

Building Pathways to Credentials and Careers: Strengthening Mississippi’s Workforce by Connecting Adults to Post-Secondary Credentials and Family Sustaining Careers

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, October 2010

Health

Over 500,000 Mississippians Go Without Health Insurance in 2009

Mississippi Economic Policy Center, September 2010

The Jackson Clarion Ledger, July 22, 2014: Kids Count report: Miss. on bottom of list again

“Mississippi youth suffer worse odds than those anywhere else in the nation, ranking dead last once again in the annual Kids Count report measuring the well-being of children and families.”

The Biloxi Sun-Herald, January 22, 2014: Mississippi GOPers join 'punish the poor' brigade

“It seems our legislative GOPers down here have joined the ‘punish the poor’ Republican brigade in Congress, and even added another wrinkle to punish low-income folks.”

The Clarion Ledger, January 16, 2014: House OKs drug testing for welfare applicants

“After more than four hours of debate Wednesday, the House — mostly along party lines — passed a bill requiring drug testing for some people applying for welfare.”

The Seattle Pi, January 14, 2014: Welfare drug testing bill advances to Miss. House

“The Mississippi House is expected to vote Wednesday on a welfare drug testing bill that Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is pushing, weeks after a judge struck down a similar law in Florida.”

The San Francisco Chronicle, January 03, 2014: Expansion of Mississippi Medicaid unlikely in 2014

“Mississippi lawmakers appear unlikely to do an about-face and vote to expand Medicaid this year.”

The Jackson Clarion Ledger, December 13, 2013: Study: Medicaid expansion would spur Miss. economy

“Mississippi is losing billions of dollars in potential economic activity because state leaders, so far, have chosen not to extend Medicaid to hundreds of thousands more people, a nonprofit group said a report Thursday.”

The Mississippi Press, December 02, 2013: (Blog) More than you think are homeless for the holidays

“When Mississippians think of the homeless, we mostly think of out-of-state people in big cities who are either severely mentally ill, chronic substance abusers, or those who are chronically homeless. We also comfort ourselves in the notion that homelessness is far less pronounced in the rural South because we ‘take care of our own.’”

The Biloxi Sun-Herald, November 17, 2013: South Mississippi sees an increase in poverty percentage

“The percentage of families living below the poverty line in South Mississippi is on the rise, according to the latest numbers released from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.”

The News & Observer, November 15, 2013: HUD: Katrina effort didn't seek low-income workers

“The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has upheld its ruling that the Mississippi did too little to recruit low-income people for Hurricane Katrina recovery work at the Port of Gulfport.”

The Sun Herald, October 17, 2013: 137,800 in Mississippi fall into insurance 'coverage gap'

“A new study shows 137,800 low-income Mississippians fall into a health insurance ‘coverage gap.’"

The Lexington Herald-Leader, October 17, 2013: 137,800 in Miss. fall in insurance 'coverage gap'

“ A new study shows 137,800 low-income Mississippians fall into a health insurance ‘coverage gap.’"

The Biloxi Sun-Herald, October 10, 2013: Biloxi VA's fight against homeless veterans more than just one-day event

“Thursday's stand down at the Biloxi Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus was more than just a five-hour event. It was a function designed to bring attention to the year-round plight of homeless veterans.”

The Columbus Dispatch, October 07, 2013: (Op-Ed) Mississippi's opt-out creates a gap for working people

“The official federal poverty level is $19,530 for a household of three, so Mary is not eligible for Medicaid herself, although her children would be eligible for the federal-state Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIPS). Her employer doesn't offer or participate in a group plan for employees, so Mary has no health insurance. There are legions of ‘Marys’ in Mississippi.”

The Sun-Herald, September 15, 2013: Mississippi uses all low-income housing tax credits

“A state housing official says Mississippi is among a very few states where requests for affordable housing tax credits outstrip the available money.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, August 21, 2013: (Op-Ed) Bill Minor: Wicker may have no use for Medicaid, but his constituents certainly do

“And rather than asking how federal programs are working for Mississippians, Republican Wicker proceeds to pontificate that Medicaid, a real biggie in this economically struggling state, is a failure. Medicaid, he said, ‘has been a very unsuccessful program in Mississippi.’ Say what? Try telling that to the 600,000 needy Mississippians who depend on Medicaid as their sole health care insurance.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, July 17, 2013: Top VA official sees South Mississippi focus on vets during Biloxi tour

“One of the top Department of Veterans Affairs officials visited Biloxi on Wednesday and talked about efforts to improve services to veterans, particularly those who are homeless.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, July 16, 2013: VA grants to help homeless vets in Harrison, Hancock counties

“Help for homeless veterans in Hancock and Harrison counties has come in the form of a $373,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA said the money will help about 75 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families as part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, July 11, 2013: (Op-Ed) Bill Minor: Very special session for Reeves

“Was Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves a hero for saving the state's $890 million Medicaid program in the madcap Friday, June 28, windup of the special legislative session? Or a dictator for bending the constitutional barrier against tacking a revenue provision onto a general bill? In any case, Reeves single-handedly bypassed Gov. Phil Bryant and restored the primary revenue stream--the hospital bed tax--to the Medicaid program after Bryant failed to add the Medicaid revenue machinery to his special session call.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, February 24, 2013: Mississippi faces millions in funding cuts if sequestration goes into effect

“In colleges, about 510 fewer low-income students in Mississippi would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 150 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college. Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for about 1,600 children in Mississippi, reducing access to critical early education, the report said.”

The Clarion-Ledger, November 16, 2012: Child-care providers blast finger-scan proposal

“Some angry child-care providers blasted the state Department of Human Services Friday during a public hearing on its proposal to pay a Xerox Corp. subsidiary up to $12.9 million to handle a finger-scanning system to police participants in the low income federal voucher program.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, November 12, 2012: (Editorial) Veterans Day isn't over

“But we can't let it end there. We can't be satisfied with celebrating our veterans for a day, for a weekend. They answered the call when we needed them. Now many veterans need us. There are tens of thousands of homeless veterans in the United States, far too many of them right here in South Mississippi.”

Memphis Business Journal, November 08, 2012: One-sixth of Mississippi families live below poverty line, highest in the nation

“Mississippi has the worst poverty rate in the nation, according to a new study by MBJ affiliate On Numbers More than one-sixth, or 17.4 percent, of families in the Magnolia State live in poverty. On an individual basis, the percentage is even higher: 22.6 percent of Mississippi citizens are classified as poor.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, October 26, 2012: Biloxi First United Methodist focuses on the homeless

“The church works closely with the Seashore Mission in Biloxi to provide for those less fortunate. Once each month, the church provides meals by taking the food to the mission where those in need can get the nutrition they need. When a hurricane threatens, the church picks up the homeless and brings them to the church to weather the storm in safety.”

The Clarion-Ledger, October 18, 2012: Jackson school top achiever despite 95 percent poverty rate

“George Elementary in Jackson is one of the state's top achieving schools despite also having a poverty rate of 95 percent. Now, the school is being awarded for that success. The Mississippi Center for Public Policy announced today its list of Exceed Schools, a ranking of the state's 20 highest scoring schools with poverty rates higher than 90 percent.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, October 17, 2012: Homeless Veteran Stand Down helps veterans prepare for winter

“A couple hundred veterans received winter supplies during the 2012 Homeless Veteran Stand Down on Wednesday at the VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi. Area organizations gathered to give homeless veterans items such as bedding, clothing, toiletries and other goods necessary for hygiene, comfort and safety.”

The Greenville News, September 25, 2012: (Op-Ed) Safety net cuts will hurt Mississippi

“Such cuts will result in less money coming into Mississippi communities, particularly poorer, rural communities. Less money in circulation in local economies causes local businesses to struggle, bankruptcies to increase, and sparks lay-offs and other economic disruptions.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 14, 2012: Ratings rise at start of new Miss. school grades

“A district where large shares of students are poor or black has a strong probability of performing poorly in the ratings, according to a mathematical analysis by The Associated Press. The average district with an F rating in 2012 had a student body that was 93 percent black, with 91 percent from impoverished homes. Statewide, half of public school students are black and 62 percent are impoverished.”

The Clarion-Ledger, August 30, 2012: Mississippi women and Medicaid

“Although the majority of maternal deliveries in our state are currently covered by Medicaid, most low-income women and teens do not qualify for coverage unless they are already pregnant. And medical science is making it increasingly clear that the health of a woman before she gets pregnant dramatically affects the outcome of the pregnancy and the health of her baby.”

The Biloxi Sun-Herald, July 17, 2012: VA announces $188K for local homeless vet services

“The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday the local area will benefit from a $187,584 ‘homeless prevention grant’ which will serve about 50 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families, according to a news release.”

The Biloxi Sun-Herald, July 17, 2012: Firefighters to distribute 400 smoke detectors

“The smoke detectors and alarms are installed at no cost to city residents. The primary recipients are to be senior citizens, low-income households, physically impaired and household with children 14 years of age and younger.”

The Biloxi Sun Herald, July 10, 2012: Non-profit says Jackson Co. has 400 homeless children

"Here's an alarming statistic: There more than 400 homeless children in Jackson County schools. The non-profit Family Promise reported the staggering numbers to supervisors Monday, as members lobbied for money to help needy families. "

The Biloxi Sun Herald, July 6, 2012: Medicaid's impact may drive debate on expansion in Mississippi

"In the coming years, state leaders will have a chance to expand the Medicaid program as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Under the law, about 14 million adults would receive coverage through a Medicaid expansion. The expansion is supposed to begin in 2014. For the first three years, the federal government will pay all of its costs. From 2020 on, it will pay 90 percent."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, June 28, 2012: Program aims to help fight Gulfport's 25% poverty rate

"The Open Doors Homeless Coalition hosted a case manager-training session Wednesday aimed at helping member agencies become more effective in helping people below the poverty line."

The Clarion-Ledger, June 16, 2012: Mississippi ranked No. 10 among least peaceful states

"'The state has the highest rate of poverty, the highest rate of children living in single parent households, the lowest average life expectancy, and the highest rate of births among teenagers.' Other states listed among the 'least' peaceful states in the country were South Carolina (9th), Arkansas (8th), Texas (7th), Missouri (6th), Arizona (5th), Florida (4th), Nevada (3rd), Tennessee (2nd) and Louisiana (1st)."

Mobile Register, June 11, 2012: (Editorial) Why unions face hard sell in Mississippi

"The numbers show that as Mississippi continued and expedited the long and difficult transition from low-skill, low-wage jobs to high-skill, high-wage jobs during the two-term administration of Haley Barbour, the state's per-capita personal income actually increased."

Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 8, 2012: Study offers strong ideas for growth in rural Appalachia

"A team of University of Tennessee researchers released a study last week that provides recommendations for improving the economic development of impoverished Appalachian communities. Commissioned by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the study represents a common-sense approach to help struggling communities keep up in a rapidly changing world."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, May 29, 2012: Fiscal conservatives take note: Poverty in the Delta is expensive

"So, clearly, given that the expense to the taxpaying public can be 2.5 times greater per person where poverty rules than where there's an economic pulse, there's an economic imperative (on top of the social imperative) to seek a turnaround for the region as aggressively as possible."

The Washington Post, May 14, 2012: (Op-Ed) Journey for racial justice is not over

"Outside the schools, their community is one where child poverty topped 50 percent in 2000, according to census and state health data; that is four times the national rate for white children. Here, third-grade test scores are used to project future prison capacity when prison contractors lobby the state for funds."

Deseret Morning News, April 28, 2012: Obese, hungry and undernourished: the new face of food insecurity

"But it also serves to highlight complicated links between poverty, nutrition, obesity and overall well-being. Insecurity or hunger? 'Those public service announcements come back to haunt me,' said Mark Nord, the USDA sociologist in charge of food insecurity data."

The Washington Post, April 12, 2012: Guess which states don’t fund pre-K programs

"Yet a new report shows that funding across the country by states has declined over the past two years — to the tune of about $90 million — even though enrollment has increased. What’s more, a number of states don’t even fund early pre-K programs."

Huntsville Times, April 9, 2012: Mississippi puts burden on poorer residents

"The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research group, rated Mississippi among the states with the highest state income taxes paid by people living below, at or marginally above the federal poverty level."

Business Week, March 13, 2012: Mississippi Whites Not Used to Help Back Republican Aid Cutters

"The major Republican contenders in the Mississippi primary -- Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich -- want to turn over to the states federal programs such as food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid. That would transform the aid from open- ended entitlements into fixed annual grants while allowing states to impose new conditions upon recipients, ultimately reducing the number helped."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, March 7, 2012: Mississippi community colleges: The myth of the mid-point

"Business leaders have repeatedly stated that in today’s economy jobs are available, but mostly for those adequately trained in the increasingly technical skills necessary to conduct the tasks required of the new work force. In many circles the bachelor’s degree is becoming the new minimum, and even the quality of those degrees is coming under scrutiny. In Mississippi, over 20 percent of the population, or approximately 600,000 citizens, live below the poverty line."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, February 21, 2012: (Op-Ed) The price of poverty is still high along Sugar Ditch

"In those six years, government payments as a component of income had risen to 26 percent of all household revenue in Tunica County. The average for all other counties in America at that time was 11.5 percent. The war on poverty was being waged full-scale in the Delta."

The New York Times, January 23, 2012: (Blog) The Best States to Grow Up In

"The Foundation for Child Development’s new report on state-level differences in the Index of Child Well-Being – a broad quality-of-life indicator based on 25 indicators – shows enormous variation, as does another set of indicators known as Kids Count, developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation."

The Clarion-Ledger, December 19, 2011: Nearly 13,000 Miss. kids without permanent place to live

"With an estimated count at 12,929, homeless children in Mississippi outnumber the populations of 9 out of 10 of the state's towns and cities. Still, the number has dropped from a peak in 2008 of nearly 20,000."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, December 11, 2011: Emergency services look for help with cold-weather shelters

"Adam said there usually aren’t very many people who use the shelter, but he likes to have one available. 'It’s terrible when you have homeless people who don’t have a place to stay,' he said. The three emergency managers on the Coast said they would like to see more churches used as shelters."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, December 7, 2011: Temperatures dropping as cold front approaches Coast

"Homeless men and women once again are spending chilly nights inside Sacramento area churches and other houses of worship this winter, but the project is threatened by a funding shortfall, officials said Tuesday."

The Enterprise Journal, November 28, 2011: Mississippi should not emulate Alabama on immigration

"As written, the law is also a compliance nightmare. For example, pharmacists must check residency status with each transaction -- a time-waster that makes any complaint about federal regulations look silly. But by far the biggest problem is that in chasing immigrants -- illegal and otherwise -- from the work force, Alabama has put the hammer on businesses that rely on low-wage employees."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, November 22, 2011: Project Homeless Connect shows community cares

"The Open Doors Homeless Coalition of community organizations had spread out at tables to offer warm clothes, blankets, hygiene kits, haircuts, and even rabies shots for pets. Intake forms the homeless and needy filled out at the door indicated that at least 164 people took advantage of the services."

The Clarion-Ledger, November 20, 2011: Sources of help for Miss.'s poor threatened

"'Yet, low-income, minority communities are underserved by traditional banks. And Mississippi is the most underbanked state in the country. 'The lack of a banking account is a contributor to poverty, and it's going to get worse if we don't address it.'"

The Clarion-Ledger, November 7, 2011: New plan to offer loan relief to some students in Mississippi

"Discretionary income refers to the difference between a borrower's family income and 150 percent of the poverty level for that family size."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, October 22, 2011: Homeless vets get help at ‘Stand Down’

"At least 250 homeless veterans received warm clothing, medical care, showers, haircuts and help getting needed services at the Biloxi Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday."

The Clarion-Ledger, October 16, 2011: Voter ID initiative remains a black-and-white issue

"He was referring to a common argument that voter ID laws are designed to suppress voting, particularly in groups that tend to vote Democrat - young people, racial minorities and low-income voters. He continued, "This is most definitely politically charged.""

Mobile Register, October 9, 2011: State eyes $50M for preschools

"'The grant could make a big difference in Mississippi, where about 33 percent of children live in poverty, Grace said. That's a higher percentage than any other state. 'This is about children, and that's very clear in this proposal,' said Grace, director of early childhood development for Children's Defense Fund."

The Biloxi Sun Herald, September 21, 2011: Please consider ramifications of the Personhood Amendment

"Increased unplanned pregnancies will lead to more people on welfare and receiving food stamps. Most of the children born to unwed and/or teenage mothers will need welfare. If you consider the loss of education, opportunity and job and income loss that sometimes goes along with an unplanned pregnancy, the cost to Mississippi taxpayers is even greater."

The Times Herald, September 1, 2011: U.S. has no excuse for hungry children

"A list of states and the federal enclave compiled by the Con Agra Foods Foundation and reprinted recently in The New York Times reveals that in the District 32.3 percent, or 36,870 boys and girls, face food deprivation. The District is followed closely by Oregon with 29.2 percent, or 252,510 children, and Arizona and Arkansas with 28.8 percent and 28.6 percent, respectively."

The Christian Science Monitor, Aug 17, 2011: U.S. child poverty rate tops 20 percent

"But the problem is not evenly distributed. New Hampshire (11 percent), Minnesota (14 percent), and Massachusetts (13 percent) have the least child poverty, while Alabama (25 percent), Louisiana (24 percent), and Mississippi (31 percent) have the most."