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KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

Poverty Rates Decline As The Mountain West Grows

Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade

Over the last five years, the Mountain West as a whole has experienced a spike in population, while at the same time every state in the region saw a decrease in the number of people living in poverty, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Utah and Colorado stand out, with both states seeing double-digit declines in overall poverty rates since 2014.

“All of the Western states except New Mexico and Wyoming saw a decline in poverty when you look at the most recent five-year period compared to the prior five-year period,” said Ashley Edwards, who oversees the Census Bureau’s Poverty Statistics Branch.

Poverty rates in Wyoming and New Mexico did dip a little, but the changes were small enough to be considered statistically insignificant. Since 2014, Wyoming has seen the smallest decline in poverty in the country.

Credit U.S. Census Bureau Data
Rates of poverty rate declines across the Mountain West.

The data show that Montana has the highest poverty rate in the region at 13%, which ranks 24th nationwide.

Overall, the U.S. is seeing drops in poverty rates. Only Delaware saw increases in the number of people living in poverty since 2014.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
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