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Census report: Number of Floridians in poverty rose as income gap widens

Florida residents are among the poorest in the nation as median income in the state dropped 2.9 percent in 2011 and the state had some of the broadest gaps in income equality, according to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data from the American Community Survey released on Thursday.

One in six Floridians lived in poverty last year, and the median income dipped from $45,609 in 2010 to $44,299 in 2011, according to the survey. The national median income is $50,502 and one in five Americans live in poverty.  

The survey also found that the income gap in Florida widened by 3.6 percent in 2011, a reflection of the state’s stagnant unemployment and slow jobs market. The income disparities in the state also remain among the highest in the nation, although they are on par with other states in the Southeast.

Seventeen percent of Florida’s population – 3.1 million people -- lived in poverty in 2011, up from 16.5 percent in 2010 and above the 15.9 percent national average. According to the survey, 48.5 million people had income below the poverty rate in the U.S., 2.2 million more than the year before.

Last year was the fourth consecutive year in which poverty rates in the state and nation increased, although the change was smaller in 2011 than previous years, the ASC reports.

New Hampshire had the lowest proportion of people with income-to-poverty ratio of less than 125 percent while Mississippi had the highest ratio. In Florida, the metropoliti=an area of Lakeland to Winter Haven had the highest percentage of people in poverty – 19.4 percent – the tenth highest metropolitan area in the nation.

The survey also reported that the number of young adults, age 19-25, with health insurance rose in Florida between 2009 and 2011, a function of many in that age group obtaining health insurance because of the newly enacted provisions of the Affordable Care Act or because they were qualified for Medicaid, the report said.

The ACS samples 3.3 million American households each year to provide communities with demographic, social and economic and housing data.