Nonmetro poverty rate holds at 16.5 percent in 2010; metro rate increases to 14.9 percent

A chart showing the poverty rates by residence, years 1959 to 2010.

In 2010, 16.5 percent of the population, or nearly 7.9 million people, living in nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) areas were poor. This poverty rate is not significantly different than the 2009 poverty rate (16.6 percent). The metropolitan (metro) area poverty rate increased. It was 14.9 percent in 2010, up 1 percentage point from the 2009 poverty rate (13.9 percent). The increase in the metro poverty rate reduced the gap between nonmetro and metro poverty rates from 2.7 percentage points in 2009 to 1.6 percentage points in 2010. The difference in 2010 (1.6 percentage points) is the smallest on record and is only the second time since 1959 that the nonmetro/metro poverty rate gap has fallen below 2 percentage points (it was 1.8 in 1994). This chart is from the ERS briefing room on Rural Income, Poverty, and Welfare, updated September 16, 2011.

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