Mississippi continues to have among the nation’s highest rates of poverty, income inequality and people lacking insurance as well as the lowest household incomes, new data from the federal government show.

The latest release of U.S. Census information, published Thursday, shows that 20.8 percent of Mississippians are in poverty, based on a three-year average between 2014 and 2016—the most in the U.S.

Although the state saw poverty dip slightly since 2014, Mississippi’s three-year poverty rate is one of only two states where more than 20 percent of the population are in poverty; the other is neighboring Louisiana, at 20.6 percent. 

Mississippi also ranks highest for what the Census calls proximity to or depth of poverty.

Nationally, the poverty rate has declined for three consecutive years, standing now at 14 percent.

According to the data, Mississippi also has the nation’s lowest median household income, of $41,754 annually. In addition to having the lowest median income of its neighboring states, Mississippi is just one of three states—along with Arkansas and West Virginia—where median yearly income is below $45,000.

Alex Rozier, Mississippi Today. Source: U.S. Census

Maryland has the highest annual median income, of $78,945 while the national median income is $57,617.

The Census also looked at numbers of people who lack health insurance. Mississippi’s rate of 11.8 percent is among the bottom ten states, and the highest in its region.

Utah has the most people without health insurance (16.6 percent) while Massachusetts has the highest portion of citizens who have health-care insurance.

Census numbers also note that of the 10 states with the highest percentages of uninsured, only Nevada had expanded Medicaid as of January 2016. Louisiana expanded the program, which the federal Affordable Care Act permits, later that year.

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Ryan L. Nave, a native of University City, Mo., served as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief from May 2018 until April 2020. Ryan began his career with Mississippi Today February 2016 as an original member of the editorial team. He became news editor August 2016. Ryan has a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked for Illinois Times and served as news editor for the Jackson Free Press.