Kansas poverty report reveals bleak data

The Kansas Association of Community Action Programs, or KACAP, released its annual poverty report Wednesday that painted a grim picture of statewide economic trends.

The poverty rate for Kansas children rose from 18 percent to nearly 24 percent between 2009 and 2010, and 20,000 more Kansans fell into poverty during the same time frame.

“It’s at least honest,” said Jesyca Rodenberg, spokeswoman for KACAP, about the 2012 Kansas Poverty Report. “We have problems with our infrastructure.”

The report, unveiled at a press conference at the state Capitol, highlighted a wide variety of economic indicators, such as poverty rates, unemployment numbers and income levels, all of which took a negative spiral during the past decade.

The report included a variety of policy recommendations, such as an increase in affordable housing and job training, aimed at lawmakers, said Tawny Stottlemire, KACAP executive director.

Stottlemire said she hopes “policymakers will use the data and the facts and not the myths and stereotypes” about poverty.

Despite the bleak data, Rodenberg said it should serve as a wake-up call promoting swift and bold action on behalf of struggling Kansans.

“We woke, we drank our coffee, and now it’s time to go to work,” she said.

Statistical highlights

• Kansas unemployment rate has risen from about 4 percent to 6.5 percent between July 2007 and July 2011.

• The Kansas median income — $46,299 — is 6.5 percent lower than the national average.

• The poverty rate for children in Kansas rose from 18 percent to 23.7 percent between 2009 and 2010 and now outpaces the national rate of 22 percent.

By Shaun Hittle

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