TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dallas County, in central southwest Alabama, is named after U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander J. Dallas. Ironically, however, half of the county's kids under 18 – 52.7 percent – live in poverty.
"That's the highest of any of Alabama's counties but not by much," said Annette Watters, manager of the State Data Center at The University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research. Watters said Perry County is at 48.9 percent, and Wilcox is at 47.4 percent.
By comparing the 2009 estimates just released with those from 2007, variations can be seen from data collected before the recession. A bit of good news is that in the majority of counties across the United States, the poverty rate for children ages 5 to 17 in families showed no statistically significant change between these years, Watters said. The bad news is that child poverty remains very high in many parts of the country.
Between 2007 and 2009, the poverty rate for children ages 5 to 17 in families rose in about three quarters of Alabama's 67 counties, according to U.S. Census Bureau."In the case of some counties, the increase or decrease in child poverty was not statistically different between 2007 and 2009, but in many counties it was," Watters said.
"These data about child poverty, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and produced by the Census Bureau, are used as one of the criteria to allocate federal funds to local school jurisdictions," Watters said. In addition, she said, state and local programs use these data for distributing funds and managing school programs.
Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous county, had the most children in poverty (35,746), but not the largest percentage. In 17 counties, one-third or more of all children lived below the poverty threshold in 2009. The 2009 estimates do not account for economic conditions in 2010.
The newly released data also include estimates of all people in poverty and median household income by county.