Census: Nearly 200,000 Hawaii residents are living in poverty

Census: Nearly 200,000 Hawaii residents are living in poverty
Under a measurement that considers Hawaii's cost of living, some 200,000 people in the islands are living under the poverty line. (Source: (Image: Hawaii News Now))

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some 192,000 people in the islands are living in poverty, according to a new Census Bureau estimate that takes Hawaii’s high cost of living into account.

The estimate puts Hawaii’s average poverty rate for 2016 to 2018 at 13.7%.

That’s higher than the national average ― and the 13th highest rate in the country.

The figures are based on the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure, a calculation that ― unlike the official poverty measure ― incorporates regional cost of living differences and also considers government benefits aimed at relieving poverty.

Under the measure, 16 states and Washington, D.C. had a poverty estimate that was higher than the official poverty rate. Some 22 states saw their poverty rates go down while 12 stayed the same.

Hawaii’s supplemental poverty measure is considerably larger than its official poverty rate ― 9.5%.

Under the official poverty measure, about 133,000 residents are considered to be living in poverty.

Because of the state’s high cost of living, the difference between the official poverty rate and the supplemental measurement is one of the biggest in the nation. And the federal government uses the official measure, not the supplemental one, in its funding and policymaking decisions.

The good news: Under both measures, poverty in the islands has declined in recent years.

Over the period from 2013 to 2015, the official poverty rate in the islands was 10.9% while the supplemental poverty measure was 16.8%.

For the full Census report, click here.

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