Monday, March 30, 2015

Know your state and county?

Poverty and income stats say a lot about a place and sometimes confirm what you think you know and sometimes offer surprises.

Know your state and county?

Looking over income and poverty rates often can confirm what you think you know about your state and county, but sometimes can be instructive and even raise some questions.

And when Sen. Bob Casey, while pushing for a hike in the minimum wage, released statewide data on income and poverty by county that's exactly what struck me.

Philly, of course, has by far the state's highest poverty rate, 26 percent, but not the lowest median income. That's found in Forrest County in PA's far northwest corner. Forrest has the second-highest poverty, 16 percent. It's median income is $34,693. Philly's is $35,518.

For context, Pennsylvania's poverty rate is 13 percent; median income is $51,225.

This places the state around the middle of states in both categories: 21st in poverty (neighbors New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland have lower rates) and 23rd in income (New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and New York have higher income rates).

Also, the current national discussion about income inequality sure applies to the Delaware Valley.

While Philly has PA's highest poverty and second-lowest income, neighboring Chester County has the state's highest income ($82,456) and Bucks County the state's lowest poverty rate (5.8 percent).

Other neighboring counties? Montgomery, 6.5 percent poverty, $76,924 income; Delaware County, 11.3 percent poverty, $60,900 income.

One stat that stood out for me is that Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, and has a population of 1.2 million (compared to Philly's 1.5 million), has a poverty rate less that half of Philly's (it's12.4 percent), and income far higher at $50,831.

But, hey, at least the Eagles did better than the Steelers last year. 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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