Missouri poverty rate up 20 percent in last 10 years, report shows
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missourians to End Poverty Commission released its 2016 Statewide Poverty Report Wednesday.
The report, which comes out every two years, showed overall poverty in Missouri is down from 2014. It also revealed an over 20 percent increase in the poverty rate since 2005.
According to the report, poverty impacted about 750,000 Missourians in 2005, and today it impacts over 900,000.
Executive Director of the Commission, Heather Lockard said two areas of poverty which Missouri still struggles in are food insecurity and low job wages.
The report showed that Missouri has the seventh highest food insecurity rate in the country, meaning people don't always know that they are going to have food.
But Lockard said the biggest hurdle in the way of moving people out of poverty is low paying jobs.
"Nearly 30 percent of our jobs in Missouri are considered low wage, so they are paying wages that are below the federal poverty line," she said.
Even at Missouri's minimum wage of $7.65 an hour, a person's annual wages only add up to $15,912 a year.
Jessica Frazier, a single mother of three, works in a minimum wage job in Jefferson City and said she is put in a difficult spot week to week because of it.
"It is a struggle, I will say that. Sometimes it's hard, cause sometimes the weeks are good where you are getting your 30-40 hours a week, and sometimes when you're barely getting 20. Then you have to figure out, oh am I going to pay rent with this check, no it's not big enough because I only worked 40 hours in those two weeks," Frazier said.
Central Missouri Community Action works with individuals and families who are in a bad economic position to provide them supplementary help such as child care services, or resume assistance.
Megan Corbin, a family specialist with the organization, said finding people jobs is not necessarily the issue, it is finding them good paying ones.
"It hard when someone is working their whole day and trying to pay for child care, and trying to pay for transportation, and trying to pay for housing and utility bills, and all of these different things that are so expensive, and still having that struggle. You know it's not like she's not working, she's doing a lot of work and taking care of people," Corban said.
Lockard said the commission is backing a bill to establish an Earned Income Tax Credit in Missouri, which 26 other states have adopted nationally as a tool to help reduce poverty.