|Census Bureau map; for a larger version, click on it or go here.|
The South as a whole is struggling, with almost 40 percent of its counties reporting a poverty rate above 20 percent in 2016. The dataset was created to guide allocations of federal education funds for high-poverty school districts, but some other state and local programs also use it to allocate funds and manage programs. The figures also provide a good opportunity for local economic reporting.
The Lexington Herald-Leader used the data to show that Appalachia is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, with nine of the poorest 30 counties in the U.S. in Eastern Kentucky. Part of the region's problem is the declining coal industry, which has erased more than two-thirds of the coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky since 2011. Road improvement projects, new fiber-optic broadband lines and growth in work-from-home jobs are helping, but "There's not enough jobs," Cale Turner, judge-executive of Owsley County, with the third-highest poverty rate in the nation, told reporter Bill Estep. Here's the Herald-Leader's poverty map; click on it for a larger version.
|Herald-Leader graphic; click on the image to enlarge it.|