Despite a modest increase in median household income, more Louisiana adults and children were living in poverty in 2019 than the year before, according to data released last week by the US Census Bureau.

Louisiana's median household income - or the level at which half of household incomes are higher and half lower - grew to $51,073 in 2019, while national median household income continued a decade of steady growth at $65,712 last year.

But the state's 19% poverty rate - up from 18.6% in 2018 - is the second-highest in the nation. The 26.8% poverty rate among all children is also the second-highest in the country. The national poverty rate fell to 12.3% from 13.1% the previous year.

The data from the annual American Community Survey was collected before the Covid-19 pandemic and does not account for the current economic crisis. But it means that before the pandemic, poverty was on the rise in Louisiana as it was falling in other states and the nation as a whole.

This is discouraging news for Louisiana, and shows how important it is to keep fighting for policies that lift up low-income families. Our federal and state policymakers must act decisively to help families and individuals facing today's extreme levels of hardship, especially those in Black, Latino, and immigrant households by taking action on federal relief now.

— Louisiana Budget Project Policy Director Stacey Roussel, Baton Rouge

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