Missouri Poverty Facts

Map of Missouri's latest poverty rates by county.

The latest Missouri Poverty Facts

2015 Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates for Missouri Released! In late December, the US Census Bureau released their annual Small Area Income and Poverty Estimate for Missouri.  This report, called SAIPE, gives estimates for the poverty rates down to county levels in the state.  For information regarding poverty rates in your county, review the attached map. Additionally, download the comprehensive Poverty in Missouri Report here

Poverty At a Glance

5 key elements of poverty

Housing & Energy
Family & Economic Security


Ensuring quality education is essential to eradicating poverty

From early childhood, K-12 and college, education matters. Numerous studies find a positive correlation between higher levels of education and increased job earnings later in life. Without adequate education, young people are relegated to low-paying, unskilled service jobs that fail to provide economic security and trap them in a lifetime of poverty. 

Areas of concentrated poverty lack educational success. Graduation rates tend to be lower in high poverty districts. Difficult working conditions, low pay and bureaucratic accountability systems make it harder for districts to staff the most challenging schools with the most experienced and capable teachers.

Housing & Energy

Safe & Affordable Housing = Healthy Families

Recently, the National Low Income Housing Coalition released a report called "Healthy Homes," which found that substandard housing contributes significantly to the health issues faced by many low income children. Studies show that children who have secure, affordable housing are far more likely to stay in school and succeed socially, and their parents are far more likely to keep a job and maintain a family income.








What is Food Security?

The concept of food security, as the United States Department of Agriculture defines it, refers to "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life." The USDA outlines food security as a continuum divided into four ranges:

High food security: Households had no problems consistently accessing adequate food.
Marginal food security: Households had problems at times accessing adequate food, but the quality, variety and quantity of their food intake were not substantially reduced. 
Low food security: Households reduced the quality, variety, desirability of their diets, but the quantity of food intake and normal eating patterns were not substantially disrupted. 
Very low food security: At times during the year, eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake reduced because the household lacked money and other resources for food. 

family & economic security

Although over 930,000 Missourians are below the federal poverty line... only 77, 551 adults and children receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).


Quality, affordable health care for all Missouri families

Lack of insurance coverage is one of the most significant impediments for Missouri families to access quality, affordable health care. Most Missourians access health care with employer-provided insurance. But in our system of employer-provided insurance, those at the lowest levels of income are rarely provided coverage by their employer.

This creates a system that forces those with the lowest incomes to pay out of pocket for their health care, while those at higher incomes receive employer subsidies.