How poor is the Columbus area? One map explains

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 16, 2014 

A new data visualization project by The New York Times, Mapping Poverty in America breaks down both the number and percentage of the population living in poverty in each county in the country.

The average poverty rate for the seven counties in the Ledger-Enquirer's coverage area — which includes Muscogee, Harris, Troup, Talbot and Chattahoochee counties in Georgia and Russell and Lee counties in Alabama — is 20.41 percent. The highest rate of poverty is in Talbot County, at 24.9 percent; the lowest rate of poverty is in Harris County, at 10.9 percent.

These statistics, which the Times pulled from the Census Bureau through 2012, place the Columbus area in a statistic middle ground. The Columbus area is poorer than the metro Atlanta area, but is less poor than Southwest Georgia, for example, where counties such as Calhoun have poverty rates above 35 percent. Lee and Russell are similar: their rates are higher than the Birmingham area, but lower than counties such as Dallas and Perry.

The average number of people living under the poverty line is 14,777 — though that average is wildly inflated by two counties, Lee and Muscogee, whose number of people living below the poverty line is 32,855 and 35,501, respectively.

The poverty threshold for 2012 was $11,945 for one person under the age of 65 and $23,283 for a family of four.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Ledger-Enquirer's coverage area as the Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area.

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