Data released by the Census Bureau show that the Utah poverty rate—11.3% in 2015—has not changed significantly since 2014.
The Utah poverty rate remains higher than it was before the 2008-2009 recession, when 9.6% of Utahns were in poverty. Children were even more likely to be in poverty, with 12.9% of Utah children below the poverty line, similar to the 2014 rate of 13.3%. That means that approximately 116,000 Utah kids are living in poverty.
While there was no change in the percent of Utahns in poverty, median income did rise, from $60,979 in 2014 to $62,912 in 2015. The improvement in median income in Utah mirrors improvement across the nation. However, there was also a statistically significant decline in the percent of people in poverty nationally, which was not the case in Utah.
“We could combat poverty in Utah by creating a state Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Matthew Weinstein of Voices for Utah Children. Twenty-six states, not including Utah, have a state EITC to prevent working people from being taxed into poverty, letting them keep more of what they earn.
The Gini index is a standard economic measure of income inequality. As of 2015, Utah has the nation’s lowest Gini Index, meaning there is not as big a difference between the incomes of the poorest Utahns and the richest Utahns as there is elsewhere in the nation.