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Poverty in Arizona on the rise

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – The percentage of state residents in poverty rose last year. But
not everywhere.

New figures today from the Census Bureau show 14.2 percent of
Arizonans were living below the federal poverty level in 2007. By
2008 that figure had risen to 14.7 percent. That half point jump
compares with an increase of just two tenths of a percent

But the trends are not uniform. The percentage of
Chandler residents living in poverty went from 5.3 percent in
2007 to 8.6 percent last year. There was a much smaller increase,
just three tenths of a point, in Coconino County. But Gilbert and
Tempe posted year-over-year decreases.

A related set of figures
today looks at the issue a different way, measuring the number of
people who receive food stamps. Generally speaking, that figure
is lower than the poverty level, possibly because applicants must
prove they are in this country legally.

By contrast, the poverty
figures measure everyone regardless of legal status. Using this
yardstick, Coconino County saw an even sharper increase in food
stamp recipients than the statewide average, from 5.7 percent in
2007 to 8.2 percent last year. Most other communities had smaller
increases, though the figures in Yuma show the number up from 9.7
percent two years ago to 17 percent in 2008.