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The Numbers Game

Jul 07, 2008
This is just a very useful and informative 463 pages full of numbers, assembled biennially by the American Association of Retired Persons (which seems now to be referring to itself, at least online, only by its acronym, AARP). This 2008 edition of the “State Handbook of Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Indicators” provides “useful data on such topics as population, poverty rates, per capita state personal income, state and local revenues, expenditures, tax rates, and property tax relief programs. Gender and age comparisons are provided for some of the data.” The report facilitates state-national comparisons by setting some data numbers side by side. It also shows changes in some numbers over a period of a decade.

Among the items I found of interest:

  • The national poverty rate increased 12.9% between 1996 and 2006, and stands at 13.3% of the population in 2006. (The poverty threshold for a family of four with two children in 2007 was $21,0271.)
  • The highest poverty rate increase in any demographic group was for males 75 and over (25.1% increase); the second highest was for males age 18-64 (17.4% increase).
  • The largest impoverished demographic group in America were females under 18 (18.5%), followed closely by males under 18 (18.2%) We visit poverty most heavily upon those whose futures are most direly affected by it. No child—in America or throughout the world—should live in poverty, fear, hunger, disease, or ignorance.
  • The poverty rate in my state of Vermont increased only 6.4% during the period in which the nation's increased 12.9%; and only 10.3% live in poverty in Vermont, compared to the national number of 13.3%. Not much, however, to crow about.
  • And we're growing older. Though the number of males in Vermont increased 6.5% from 1996 to 2006, the number of males over 75 increased 30.2% and the number under 18 decreased 8.6%. Female numbers were comparable.
  • I was surprised to learn that only 39% of our general revenues in 2005 came from income, sales, and property taxes combined, which I would have thought accounted for the lion's share of our revenues. The largest piece (27%) came from federal aid, a proportion unchanged since 1995.
Find links to the three other most recent AARP handbooks at the link below, as well as the link to this one.
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1 U.S. Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/threshld/thresh07.html. Accessed June 29, 2008.
tags: Economics | States | Reference

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