As the political season ramps up, I recently heard a discussion about poverty. Poverty is an ongoing issue that is unlikely to be solved in this election cycle. There is a wide range of opinions on the causes, solutions and policy implications surrounding poverty in America. One thing most will agree on is that facts are great place to start a discussion about poverty. MSU Extension Economist George Haynes and I recently created a poverty report card for each Montana County. Each report card provides several years of data on poverty related indicators such as Median Income, Old Age Dependency Ratio, Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Poverty Rate, Unemployment, Free and Reduced Price School Lunch Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Medicaid Participation, Transfer Payments, Earned Income Tax Credit and Educational Attainment. Montana data is also presented as a comparison for each county. All of the data presented is publicly available, however it would be time consuming to locate all of the information directly. The report makes this information easily available.
The report does not propose any solutions to poverty but hopefully it provides a solid factual foundation for those interested in the poverty issues. The reports can be accessed here. A statewide report was also developed that compares Montana to our bordering states and the U.S. average for many of the same indicators.