Poverty For Portland Families Is Up, But Government Assistance Is Climbing Faster

By Kasey Colton (OPB)
July 13, 2017 4:02 a.m.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show poverty is up 2 percent among Portland families with children since 2011.

But far more are struggling to make ends meet.


The bureau released its 2011-2015 American Community Survey report Wednesday. The survey focuses on topics like race, income, housing and industry.

It shows that while the overall percent of impoverished households with children has ticked up 2 percent since 2011, a full 7 percent more Portland families are accessing governmental assistance like food stamps.

That discrepancy may be partially explained by how the American Community Survey presents its data. The census only separates out people living below the poverty line, while people who live above, near or at the line are lumped together.


Those families, who may still need government assistance but are not considered in poverty, could help explain a relatively stable overall poverty level and the sharper increase in families seeking services like food assistance.

Related: Situation For Children In Poverty In Oregon Continues To Worsen

Examining the broader Portland area population, the new estimates reveal 18 percent of people here are experiencing poverty, compared to 13 percent in 2000.

Additionally, some people of color in the Portland area are nearly twice as likely to experience poverty as their white and Asian counterparts. Black, American Indian and Pacific Islander populations all have a nearly 40 percent poverty rate, while Hispanic and Spanish-speaking populations have a 30 percent rate.

White and Asian communities experience poverty at rates of 15 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Even as poverty is going up in the Portland region, the census data show the city’s population is getting wealthier.

Over the five years surveyed, the median household income has increased by nearly $7,000.