25 percent of Mississippians in poverty - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

25 percent of Mississippians in poverty

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

If you live in Mississippi, there's a 25 percent chance you're living in poverty. That's according to numbers recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Mississippi families are having to do more with less and a lot of this has to do with the fact that economic conditions have continued to remain challenging," said Mississippi Economic Policy Director Ed Sivak.

Federally, the 2011 poverty line for a family of four is slightly more than $23,000 a year. Nationally that includes 46.2 million people. In the Magnolia State, nearly 130,000 families fall below that income level. That means almost 45 percent of Mississippians who filed tax returns didn't make enough money to pay income taxes.

"One of the things we need to look at is taking a balanced approach that included raising revenue instead of the cuts only approach that has been taken in the past," Sivak said.

That means taxes. Sivak says lawmakers need to look at the statewide picture to help reduce poverty.

"It's really important that we make these investments in a high quality education, affordable healthcare and affordable college tuition. These are going to be the types of investments that move families forward and they don't happen for free," Sivak said.

While taxes are a touchy subject at the state capitol, Sivak says it's time to bring up the possibility, especially since Mississippi's median household income comes in at $36,919. That's far below the national median of $50,502.

"We need to look at the fact that since 2001 median household incomes have dropped by $2,400. Mississippi families are doing more with less and that signals that we need to make the critical investments that move families forward," Sivak said.

Mississippi didn't rank the highest when it comes to the number of people living in poverty. States like New Mexico, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia had higher numbers.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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