The poverty trap: For 11 S.D. counties, there’s no escape
Census Bureau finds 10 percent of U.S. counties are in persistent poverty
Eleven South Dakota counties are stuck, mired in poverty. They can’t get out.
That’s the gist of data released this summer by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau identified counties across the nation that have had poverty rates of 20 percent or higher during the three-decade period stretching from 1989 to 2019. Those counties have been identified as being in “persistent poverty.”
The 11 South Dakota counties in persistent poverty are among 341 counties nationwide with similar poverty rates – or about 10 percent of all counties in the nation. The Census Bureau notes that there are common characteristics among them.
“Over 80 percent were in the South and nearly 20 percent of all counties in the South were in persistent poverty,” the bureau’s report says. “Many were clustered in informal subregions such as the Southwest border, the Mississippi Delta, the Southeast, Appalachia, and in some counties with higher amounts of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal lands.”
With the exception of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, South Dakota’s reservation system has been locked in poverty. That’s despite years of government cash transfers, programs and, during that period, legalized gambling.
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