Persistent poverty county

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A map of the United States highlighting counties defined as "persistent poverty counties."

A persistent poverty county is a classification for counties in the United States that have had a relatively high rate of poverty over a long period.

A 2011 U.S. federal law defined a persistent poverty county as one in which "20 percent or more of its population [has lived] in poverty over the past 30 years" according to the Census, which is done every 10 years.[1] The Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture categorizes non-metropolitan counties by their dominant economic foundation and by characteristic policy type. Persistent poverty counties are defined as those where 20% or more of the county population in each of the last four decennial Censuses had poverty level household incomes.[2]

In 2000, there were 386 such counties concentrated largely in the Delta South, Central Appalachia, Rio Grande Valley, the Northern Great Plains, and western Alaska. The average poverty rate in these counties was approximately 29% in 1989.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Consolidated Appropriations Act 2012 (112th Congress Public Law 74)". U.S. Government Printing Office. December 23, 2011. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  2. ^ "Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America: Documentation". Economic Research Service. Retrieved 2012-10-07.