Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: New Report Tracks Virginia’s Progress Toward Cutting Poverty and Expanding Opportunity
Press Advisory

RELEASE: New Report Tracks Virginia’s Progress Toward Cutting Poverty and Expanding Opportunity

Washington, DC – With over one million Americans set to lose unemployment insurance at the end of this month, Half in Ten today released a new report that ranks how the 50 states are faring on 14 different indicators of economic security and opportunity.  The report finds that while in 2012, the official poverty rate in the United States was 15 percent, in Virginia the poverty rate was 11.7 percent, ranking it 9 among other states in the country.

Across the 14 different indicators, Virginia is doing the best on its rankings for children living apart from parents, hunger and food insecurity, and savings and assets:

  • Virginia ranks the best on foster care out of all 50 states and D.C.  Only 2 children in Virginia lived in foster care for every 1,000 children under age 18 in 2011.
  • On hunger and food insecurity, Virginia ranks 2nd best in the nation. 9.2 percent of households in Virginia were food insecure on average from 2010 to 2012, meaning that at some point during the year, they experienced difficulty providing enough food for their families due to a lack of money or resources. Source
  • Virginia’s ranks 3rd in savings and assets.   17.7 percent of households in Virginia were “asset poor” in 2010. This is the share of households whose total assets, including any home equity—minus their total liabilities—are less than three times the monthly federal poverty threshold.

In contrast, Virginia is doing the worst on unemployment insurance coverage, health insurance coverage, and the availability of affordable housing:

  • Virginia ranked 45th in the nation in terms of unemployment insurance coverage.  Nationwide, the share of unemployed workers who received regular unemployment compensation fell to 26.4 percent in 2012, a historical low. The sharp drop in overall unemployment coverage from 2011 to 2012 reflects the decision Congress made in February 2012.  19 percent of unemployed workers in Virginia were helped by unemployment insurance in 2012.
  • In lack of health insurance coverage, Virginia ranked 36th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  30.5 percent of people under age 65 and below 138 percent of the poverty line in Virginia did not have health insurance at any time in 2012.
  • When it comes to providing affordable and available housing, Virginia ranks 32nd.  Virginia had 61 apartments or other units that were affordable and available for every 100 renter households with very low incomes in 2011. Very low-income households are those with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income.

The bottom line is this: Low-income families in states across the country are suffering from too many years of reckless efforts to reduce the federal deficit. Although many states need to improve local policies—especially those that hinder the ability of low-income families to access federally funded programs—the state-by-state results from our indicators show that the budget choices we make at the national level have consequences.

It’s time to reset the debate. It’s time to reinvest in our economy and build a better path to shared opportunity for families that are still struggling, even in a slow-growing economy. Although not ideal, the recent budget agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators will reduce the harmful effects of sequestration and represents a positive step in the right direction, but still doesn’t make the investments our country needs to get our country back on track.