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Census: Poverty Rate Falls, but TN 11th Poorest in U.S.

PHOTO: The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures show the poverty rate in Tennessee fell slightly between 2011 and 2012, but the state is still the 11th poorest in the nation. Photo credit: Mish Sukharev
PHOTO: The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures show the poverty rate in Tennessee fell slightly between 2011 and 2012, but the state is still the 11th poorest in the nation. Photo credit: Mish Sukharev
October 2, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee has seen a slight improvement in its poverty rate, but the struggle for low-income families is far from over.

Many of the jobs lost during the Great Recession haven't yet come back, said Cynthia Chroom, president of the Tennessee Association of Community Action, and others now available don't come with the same pay or benefits.

"Issues affecting the economy hit those who are in poverty before it hit the wider population several years ago," she said. "So it's not surprising that, even where some recovery might be noted, that it would not be noted, at this time, with those who are the most vulnerable."

One of the best strategies on which local organizations and businesses are working together to help people climb out of poverty is to give them a chance to access the education, training and resources to find gainful employment, Chroom said.

"But not just helping them to get jobs - helping them to get job-ready," she said. "To help them prepare their resumes, have things appropriate to wear, understand what industries are looking for, so that people have a better opportunity for getting involved in these employment-related opportunities."

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, the state's poverty rate in 2012 was nearly 18 percent, making Tennessee the 11th poorest state in the nation.

More information is online at tncommunityaction.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN