From the quiet hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
According to the Census Bureau, the number of Arkansas families living below the poverty level went down slightly last year, from 12.7 percent to 11.7 percent.
The poverty level last year was set at $26,172 for a family of four.
Information compiled by the Census Bureau confirmed what most of us already knew – that married couples tend to be better off than single mothers.
For example, only 6.2 percent of married couples lived below the poverty level. But in families in which a female is the head of the household, without a spouse, 30 percent were living below the poverty level.
At the other end of the spectrum, 3.8 percent of Arkansans lived in families that earned more than $200,000 a year.
The total population of Arkansas is just over 3 million – about 3,018,000 people. Of our total state population, only 154,000 were born in a foreign country, mostly Latin America and Asia.
The Census Bureau reported that 76.7 percent of the Arkansas population was white in 2019, and 15.5 percent were African-American. Hispanics made up 7.7 percent of the state population.
Although the census results are highly accurate, they are expected to change soon because the Census Bureau is finalizing a more detailed and thorough survey of the population of the entire nation.
We know that the number of Arkansans without health insurance went up last year by almost a full percentage point, from 8.2 percent to 9.1 percent.
We also learned from the Census Bureau that the median household income in Arkansas was $48,952 last year.
Only 23.3 percent of our adult population has earned the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree, but 87.5 percent had at least a high school diploma.
The Census Bureau found that 89.5 percent of Arkansas homes had a computer and 79.8 percent were paying for Internet service.
Data gathered by the Census Bureau has always been critical in forming government policy, and this year it’s more important than ever.
The legislature is distributing millions of dollars to expand access to high-speed Internet. We’ve adjusted the state’s funding formula for higher education to reward colleges that retain and graduate students.
We’ve shortened the waiting list for Medicaid waivers that benefit people who have a family member with a developmental disability. The state has approved numerous waivers in education standards so that schools have the flexibility to adapt if there is a spike in Covid-19 cases within the district.
All of those policy decisions were made with the needs of Arkansas citizens uppermost in our priorities. Elected officials, whatever their political opinions, try to make informed decisions. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re counted in this year’s census.
So call 844-330-2020, and after you’ve completed the census, encourage everyone you know to complete it.
You can also fill out the form online. Search for “my 2020 census.gov.”
The Census Bureau plans to stop counting at the end of September. Let’s make sure we’re counted.
From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.