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Census: Georgia poverty rate flat in 2007

WASHINGTON - Georgia's poverty rate held flat at about 14 percent in 2007, according to a new Census Bureau report released Tuesday, and nearly one in five of the state's residents didn't have health insurance.

The 14.3 percent poverty rate - unchanged from 2006 - tied with North Carolina's as 13th highest in the country. It means more than 1.3 million Georgians live below the federal income thresholds of between $21,203 for a family of four and $10,590 for an individual.

The national poverty rate was about 12.5 percent.

On health insurance, Georgia's 17.8 percent uninsured rate - tracked over a three-year period from 2005 to 2007 - was the 10th highest in the country, with nearly 1.7 million residents lacking coverage. The national rate was about 15 percent.

Meanwhile, the report showed that Georgia's median household income, after adjusting for inflation, has remained stagnant in recent years. In raw numbers, the median income - or midpoint - jumped about 5 percent to $49,136 from 2006.

But taking inflation into account, it was only a 2 percent jump over 2006, and taking a longer view, it has stayed roughly flat since 2000.

Georgia's 2007 median income was slightly lower than the national figure of $50,233.

'These figures illustrate that many Georgia families are struggling to make ends meet,' said Alan Essig, Executive Director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. 'Yet our policy makers are proposing cuts to critical services like health care, education, and services for vulnerable populations that will only make it harder for them.'

The survey showed strong correlations between income, race and education.

More than a quarter of those who didn't graduate from high school were living in poverty, compared with about 3 percent of those with a college degree. About 10 percent of whites fell under the poverty line, while nearly a quarter of blacks and Latinos were there.

The 2007 state income estimates are based on the bureau's American Community Survey, which samples several million households a year and reports detailed data for states and local communities of 65,000 or more.

Of those communities, Clarke County - which includes students at the University of Georgia - had the highest poverty rate of about 29 percent, followed by a number of counties such as Bulloch, Bibb, Richmond and Dougherty at around 25 percent. Cherokee and Forsyth counties had the lowest, with rates of less than 6 percent.