04 September 2005

Poverty and educational attainment in the United States

On August 29, 2005, hurricane Katrina, possibly the deadliest storm in U.S. history, caused extensive damage in the southeastern United States. The victims of Katrina tended to be black, poor and less educated and many did not have the means to leave the area before the storm arrived.

Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, the states that were particularly hard hit, are among the poorest in the nation, according to data from the 2004 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. In Mississippi, 21.6% of the population lived below the poverty line, more than in any other U.S. state. Louisiana was the second poorest state, with 19.4% of the population living below the poverty line. Alabama was the ninth poorest of the 50 states, with 16.1% below the poverty line. New Orleans, the city with the highest number of storm victims, had a poverty rate of 23.2%. In comparison, 13.1% of the entire U.S. population lived below the poverty line in 2004. In terms of education, the three states affected most by the hurricane also rank near the bottom of the 50 U.S. states, as the graph below shows.

Percent of population 25 years and over who graduated from high school, United States 2004
Bar chart with percent of population who completed high school, United States 2004
Data source: 2004 American Community Survey.

The 2004 American Community Survey found that 83.9% of the U.S. population aged 25 years and over graduated from high school, which means that they have at least 12 years of education. In the graph above, the states are ranked by the share of the population who completed high school. Mississippi had the lowest percentage of high school graduates, 77.3%. Alabama with 79.5% and Louisiana with 79.9% rank fifth and sixth in terms of the lowest share of high school graduates.

The victims of hurricane Katrina are mostly from the margins of U.S. society, poor, with little education and limited economic opportunities. Local, state and national government agencies have the responsibility to assist those in need but there has been widespread criticism of the government's slow response to the disaster. Many survivors have lost their homes and other belongings and are unable to provide for themselves. They will depend on help from the government and charitable organizations like the Red Cross for many months and years to come.

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Friedrich Huebler, 4 September 2005 (edited 9 May 2009), Creative Commons License
Permanent URL: http://huebler.blogspot.com/2005/09/poverty-and-educational-attainment-in.html

1 comment:

Tom said...

Nice graph!