Rhode Island leapfrogged Maine to now have the highest percentage of impoverished residents in New England, according to new Census Bureau data analyzed by the Economic Progress Institute.
More than 144,000 Rhode Islanders experienced poverty in 2013, or 14.3 percent of the state population. In Maine, which has the second highest rate of poverty in New England, 14 percent of the population experienced poverty. Last year, Maine had 14.9 percent of its population in poverty and Rhode Island had 13.9 percent. Rhode Island went up .4 percent and Maine dropped .9 percent.
Rhode Island has the 28th highest rate of people who experienced poverty in the nation. Mississippi, New Mexico and Louisiana were the top three and New Hampshire, Alaska and Maryland had the lowest rates in the nation.
“To make our state a better place to live, work and grow a business, we need to invest in our people and our communities,” said Kate Brewster, executive director of The Economic Progress Institute. “Giving Rhode Islanders the tools they need to climb out of poverty not only helps struggling families, but makes our economy stronger for everyone.”
Rhode Island’s median annual income “remained flat at $55,902 a year, ranking Rhode Island 19th among all states, and in the middle of the pack in New England. This is significantly less than pre-recession median household income of $60,183,” according to a press release from EPI, a local nonprofit that advocates for economic security for poor Rhode Islanders. Rhode Island has the 19the highest median annual income in the country. Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.