Census Bureau releases new income and poverty data

JOPLIN, Mo. – An increase in the nation’s poverty level over the past 10 years is felt locally by organizations that serve folks in need. We spoke with two of those organizations on what they’re seeing in the region.

On Tuesday, the Census Bureau released its income and poverty report, which showed a 1% increase in poverty nationally. New local numbers weren’t immediately available, but as of 2019, the City of Joplin had a nearly 19% poverty rate, while the national average, is at 10%, and the state average is at 12%. The number of people living in poverty is placing an increased demand on local service providers as well. Crosslines Executive Director Rodney Rambo says “The stimulus relieved the immediate crisis which is what we do, but we’re starting to see things trend back upward.”

For Crosslines, Executive Director Rodney Rambo says they’re grateful for the assistance they get from the community to help meet those increased needs. “We were started through the generosity of the community, through the local churches and we continue to depend on that today, so, fortunately we live in a place where our community tends to respond to need very well.”

Rambo says he’s concerned the poverty percentage in Joplin, could go up. “We do expect that number to continue to increase, Joplin, we just tend to be, have a higher poverty level than the surrounding region.

Over at the Economic Security Corporation, they’ve seen a 26% increase in customers needing assistance since 2019. Community Development Director Tammy Walker says “So, it definitely could go up, I think if it does, more customers will be seeking assistance, my hope is some of the programming we do will help people get out of poverty or get into a better situation.”

Community Development Director Tammy Walker says part of that increase is due to the pandemic, but, another side-effect of the pandemic, has been an increase in funding to organizations like economic security to provide services. “We were able to look at the needs in the community and create programs that we haven’t done before, for example, we were offering water bill assistance, and that’s taken off.”

If you would like to help out with Crosslines, click here.
If you’re in need of assistance, click here for the Economic Security Corporation.