Interactive Poverty Statistics
Black Belt FAQ
The Southern Black Belt is a term made well known in 1901 by Booker T. Washington to describe the color of the rich southern soil on which slaves worked. The term is now often used to describe the Southern region in a political sense—the Black Belt remains a collection of 11 states containing counties with higher-than-average percentages of black residents stretching across Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Throughout the 11 states of the Southern Black Belt, there are 11,523,063 people living in poverty.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the 11 states that make up the Southern Black Belt have a combined rural poverty rate of 18.7 percent, translating into almost 1 in every 5 rural residents living in poverty. The urban poverty rate for the Southern Black Belt is 14.0 percent.The following is a breakdown of poverty rates across the Southern Black Belt.
|Geography Poverty Rate|
|Southern Black Belt||14.06%|
The poverty rate for the Southern Black Belt is higher than the national poverty rate. The Southern Black Belt has a poverty rate of 14.06 percent, while the national poverty rate is 12.38 percent.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the official poverty threshold for 2004 was $19,157 for a family of four.
In 1963, Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration developed the poverty thresholds used by the federal government. Orshansky based her thresholds on the ability to afford food for all members of a family. Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov) reports the new poverty level, which is recalculated each year in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.
Over half of those responding to a 2003 survey by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development said a family of four needs above $31,000 to cover their basic needs. The poverty threshold set by the federal government was $19,157 for a family of four for 2004.
The child poverty rate is 19.05 percent—meaning 19 percent of all children in the Southern Black Belt live in poverty. That equates to about 4.5 million children throughout the 11 states that make up the Southern Black Belt. Children make up 35.14 percent of the population living in poverty.
For every year that 14.5 million American children continue to experience poverty, it costs the American economy $130 billion in lifetime contributions due to the fact that poor children become less educated and often less productive adults.
|Race/Ethnicity Poverty Rate|
African-Americans make up roughly 36 percent of the poverty population; Hispanics make up 21.5 percent; and Whites comprise about 52 percent of the poverty population.
When asked, nearly half of Americans did not know how many people live in poverty in the U.S. Of those responding, 64 percent believed the number to be 5 million or fewer. The actual total for 2004 is almost 34 million people.
Over half—58.6 percent of those in poverty in the Southern Black Belt work at least part-time and are still unable to afford basic necessities.
A single parent of two children working a full-time minimum wage job will make $10,712 before taxes—more than $4,500 below the federal poverty line.
NOTE: All data are from the 2000 Census, U.S. Census Bureau. 2005. http://www.census.gov