In 2005, Missouri had nearly 750,000 people living in poverty. The 2016 “State of the State: Poverty in Missouri” report released by the Missourians to End Poverty Coalition, says more than 900,000 residents are living in poverty today.
The state’s poverty rate has declined, but Executive Director Heather Lockard says not enough.
“The poverty rate in Missouri has declined slightly in the past two years, but if you look at the last ten years, the poverty rate in Missouri has risen by 21%,” said Lockard.
The report says Missouri is ranked 22nd in the U.S. for the number of people living in poverty.
Former Senator Pat Dougherty wants state lawmakers to help Missouri’s poor.
“We each want to be the best that we can be. To date, the public policies of this state have not risen to that particular challenge. Those who are poor in our state are all too often stigmatized. Our brothers and sisters are hurting,” said Dougherty.
“We want from this (report), concrete actions and policies that address the fundamental underlying parts of poverty. We don’t want words or actions that demean the poor, ignore their plight and increase the burdens on their backs,” said Dougherty.
The report says the leading factor pushing people into poverty is medical expenses.
Missouri counties with the highest poverty rates are Mississippi (32.2%), Dunklin (29.8%) and Pemiscot (28.7%).