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West Virginia poverty rate among highest in US

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County’s 17 percent poverty rate in 2014 was the highest it has been in the last decade, with the exception of 2011, when 17.2 percent of county residents were living in poverty, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week.

The finding is one of many that provide details about how West Virginia fared last year in terms of poverty and household income.

The data ultimately reveals West Virginia once again had a poor showing in both categories.

With nearly 328,000 or about 18.3 percent of West Virginians living below the federal poverty line, the Mountain State had one of the highest poverty rates in the country last year.

The statewide average placed it ninth, behind only Mississippi, which had the highest with 21.5 percent, New Mexico, Louisiana, Kentucky and Arkansas. West Virginia had the same poverty rate in 2014 as both Tennessee and Georgia.

West Virginia’s surrounding states had poverty rates ranging from 10.1 percent in Maryland to 19.1 percent in Kentucky.

According to the federal government, a family of four making less than $24,250 is defined as living in poverty, as is an individual making less than $14,720.

A racial breakdown of the poverty rate shows significant disparities in West Virginia…

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