Poverty in the South: Government Attention Needed

A broken down shack of a family in the South in Brownsville Texas. (2012)

A broken down shack of a family in the South in Brownsville Texas. (2012)

In the U.S. poverty in the South is an ongoing problem that needs the attention of our government. The South especially is hit hard with low paying jobs and few job openings. People are unable to pay their rent, unable to provide for their family, and unable to obtain necessities.

The Poverty Threshold is a measure of poverty in a specific area based on someone’s income rate. It is important that the government understands the threshold in order to alleviate the amount of poverty in the United States. According to the 2011 ACS (American Community Association), “Poverty rate measures the percentage of people whose income fell below the poverty threshold.About 48.5 million people or 15.9 percent of the U.S. population had income below their respective poverty level” (Census 1). In The United States poverty status is measured by determining the poverty thresholds such as family size, number of children, and the age of the head of the person in the family (Census 1).

One factor of the cause of poverty is where you are located throughout the Untied States. Poverty in the south is highly concentrated in Appalachia, The Mississippi Delta, and the southern “black belt.” These conclusions, which Samantha Friedman discusses in Spatial Inequality and Poverty among American Children adds weight to the argument that “poverty is influenced geographically by local industrial arrangement and high unemployment rates” (Friedman 91). Most of the poverty in the United States is located in the south because of the location and its lack of opportunities. Unlike parts of the rest of the country, the south is very rural and is not as industrialized and city focused like other places. Poverty in the south can be alleviated if the government steps in and potentially stabilizes the inequality in the land and the opportunities that the people have access to.

Below is a video about Poverty in the South and statistics of those who are curretnly in poverty.

Many people assume that if you have multiple jobs you are able to support your family, however, many American citizens are still not making enough money to fully provide for their families. One instance of a family who struggles to survive in the south is the Castros family who lives in Las Colonias, Texas. Maria Castro is a 12 year old girl who is part of a family struggling to live comfortably in Las Colonias, Texas.” Castro explains, “There is sometimes no electricity or running water, no sewers, drainage or streetlights, and no garbage collection. Trash in Las Colonias is burned. Most are without cell phones and computers.” Medicine and resources need to be more accessible and available to families such as the Castros who are impoverished and struggle with minimum wage jobs.

Below is a typical shack in Las Colonias, Texas.


American children are affected by local area economic opportunities available to their parents. High unemployment rates and underemployment rates directly affect children’s economic deprivation.

High unemployment rates and underemployment rates directly affect children’s economic deprivation. Susan Mayer discusses the implications and trends of poverty in the anthology, Consequences of Growing up Poor. Parents’ incomes directly influence children’s outcomes in life and their morals and values are affected. Female-headed families are consistently not as stable as families with a two-parent system. Similar to Mayer’s ideas, Samantha Friedman argues, “The increase in child poverty also has to do with the family structure and whether the families are stable and are geographically in a prosperous location” Whether or not families can provide for their children, directly impacts if their children will be impoverished not only when they are young but also in the future.

This is an image of children in Las Colonias living in extreme poverty. (2012)

This is an image of children in Las Colonias living in extreme poverty. (2012)

Family structure is a very significant factor when dealing with poverty in the south. Friedman believes that if the woman is the breadwinner for the family, poverty amongst children is much higher. When a woman is a single mother trying to work multiple jobs and is still unable to provide for their family, this indicates that the government needs to step in and figure out a way to provide her with a higher income rate.

Without the help and support from the government, society will inevitably continue to suffer through low- wage jobs and will be unable to support and provide for their family. In Peter Edelman’s article “Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It” he argues, “Without the authority, the people not only suffer economically but they also need that power to protect and guide the mass” (Edelman 2). That power is what is necessary in the south in order to create a stable and working society. In order for change to occur, the government needs to be involved in regulating and helping the poor.

Women returning from a local food shelter.

Women returning from a local food shelter.

The government needs to be more involved in helping alleviate poverty in the south in order for people to be able to afford basic necessities and provide for their families. Poverty has been an ongoing issue for many years in the south in the United States. If the South wants to see change, the government needs to interfere and provide money and other regulations for income and unemployment rates.


Edelman, Peter. “Poverty In America: Why Can’t We End It?” New York Times. The New York  Times Company, 28 July 2012. Web. 14 Sept. 2012 <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/why-cant-we-end-poverty in america.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all>.

Friedman, Samantha. “Spatial Inequality and Poverty among American Children.” 2nd ed. Vol. 17. N.p.: Springer, 1998. n. pag. Print

Number in Poverty and Poverty Rate: 1959-2012. 2012, Census. npr.org. Web. 23 October 2012.

Quinones, John, Ben Newman, and Roxanna Sherwood. “Hidden America: ‘Forgotten Ones’  Struggle to Survive in Texas’ Barren ‘Colonias'” ABC News. ABC News Network, 25  Apr. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://abcnews.go.com/US/hidden-america-forgotten struggle-survive-texas-barren-colonias/story?

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