Lloyd Potter
Texas State Demographer

National Poverty in America Awareness Month 2024

Texas has experienced significant growth in both its population and economy. However, poverty remains a major challenge for the State. January is Poverty in America Awareness Month, and we shared a series of social media posts highlighting some of these challenges.

Despite a notable reduction in the poverty rate from 17.9% to 14% over the past decade, Texas still exceeds the national average, ranking 11th among all states and the District of Columbia in 2022.

Poverty rates are particularly high among specific demographic groups. Between 2012 and 2022, children showed the most improvement, though 1 in 5 children are still living in poverty, putting them at a higher risk than any other age group. Additionally, the state has also seen a slight increase in the poverty rate among people over 65.

Poverty Rates by Age Group in Texas, 2012-2022

Colored bar graph showing poverty rates by age in Texas.

Source:U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2012 and 2022.

Income disparities are also observed across regions, with central city school districts having higher poverty rates than suburban counterparts. Rural, West, and South Texas school districts have over a quarter living in poverty. Visit the U.S. Census Bureau website to learn more about the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) Program.

Poverty Rate for School Age Children (5-17) Living in Families, by School Districts in Texas, 2022

Colored Texas map with poverty rate for school age children.

Source:U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) for 2022.

Income inequality can pose challenges for vulnerable populations. Although most Texas counties experienced a decrease in poverty over the decade, more counties experienced increased income inequality, representing a greater gap between higher and lower-income groups. 

Change in Income Inequality, Texas Counties, 2012 - 2022

Colored Texas map showing change in income inequality.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2012 and 2022.

Note: Household income inequality is measured by the Gini Coefficient.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson, a native of Texas, declared an "unconditional war on poverty" and launched numerous social policy programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which aimed to alleviate these issues. While millions of Texans have benefited from these programs, enrollment rates are consistently below the national average. Addressing the issues of poverty and income inequality becomes even more crucial with an aging population and a growing demographic of historically disadvantaged individuals.

Poverty and Selected Health Care Coverage Rates, Texas, 2022

Texas Ranking of poverty and medical insurance.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2022.