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Poverty in Michigan counties fluctuates, but remains higher than national average

Brad Wilson

New US census data released Thursday show Michigan’s average poverty rate has stayed stable despite fluctuations between counties.

The state’s five-year average poverty rate between 2012 and 16 was 16 point 3 percent, identical to the 2008 - 12 average.

Peter Ruark is with the Michigan League for Public Policy. He said while unemployment has come down, the fact that poverty has remained relatively stable shows there is still working to do.

“When we think about the fact that unemployment has gone down but poverty has not really gone down what that tells us is more people are working but they might not be out of economic hardship yet.”

Ruark said unemployment hasdeclined while poverty has remained high.

“What it is telling us is work isn’t really paying the way it should. There’s this idea that if people would only get a job and work full time than they won’t be poor anymore but a minimum wage job will not pull a parent with a couple children out of poverty.”

Ruark says countywide changes, particularly in Michigan’s smaller, rural communities, can look dramatic based on the financial changes in just a few households.