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When it comes to economic policy, politicians recently have been focused on appealing to issues concerning the ever-growing middle class. But many Americans tend to forget there is a significant fraction of the population that still has trouble making ends meet every day. According to the most recent income report from the United States Census Bureau, 48 million Americans still live below the poverty line. Some states now hope to help combat this problem by pushing to increase minimum wage, but even that change won’t solve all the persisting problems.

In order to see how poverty in America has changed over time, genealogy data site MooseRoots crunched the numbers to find the most impoverished counties from 1980 to 2010. Since 1980, the poverty threshold has been updated annually to reflect changing costs of living according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The current poverty threshold (as of 2010) for a family of four is $24,250. If this number seems absurdly low, it’s because it is: the federal poverty measure was first introduced in the 60s, and hasn’t been updated to reflect the consumption patterns of today’s average family. It’s also important to note that those excluded from poverty statistics include people in military group quarters, students in college dorms, and children under 15 years. For more on the methodology, click here .

Population Below the Poverty Line (2010) | MooseRoots

Virginia

Population Below the Poverty Line in Virginia (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 8,100,653
Median Income: 309,17
Population below poverty line in 2010: 11%

Decrease in poverty from 1980-2010: -0.8%

Alabama

Population Below the Poverty Line in Alabama (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 4,799,277
Median Income: 22,630
Population below poverty line in 2010: 18.7%

Decrease in poverty from 1980-2010: -0.8%

Alaska

Population Below the Poverty Line in Alaska (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 720,316
Median Income: 30,061
Population below poverty line in 2010: 9.6%

Decrease in poverty from 1980-2010: -1.1%

Mississippi

Population Below the Poverty Line in Mississippi (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 2,976,872
Median Income: 20,815
Population below poverty line in 2010: 22.3%

Decrease in poverty from 1980-2010: -1.6%

South Dakota

Population Below the Poverty Line in South Dakota (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 825,198
Median Income: 25,971
Population below poverty line in 2010: 13.8%

Decrease in poverty from 1980-2010: -3.2%

Oregon

Population Below the Poverty Line in Oregon (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 3,868,721
Median Income: 24,455
Population below poverty line in 2010: 15.5%

Increase in poverty from 1980-2010: 4.9%

Ohio

Population Below the Poverty Line in Ohio (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 11,549,590
Median Income: 25,332
Population below poverty line in 2010: 15.3%

Increase in poverty from 1980-2010: 5%

Indiana

Population Below the Poverty Line in Indiana (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 6,514,861
Median Income: 25,156
Population below poverty line in 2010: 14.7%

Increase in poverty from 1980-2010: 5.1%

Nevada

Population Below the Poverty Line in Nevada (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 2,730,066
Median Income: 26,271
Population below poverty line in 2010: 14.2%

Increase in poverty from 1980-2010: 5.5%

Michigan

Population Below the Poverty Line in Michigan (1980 – 2010) | MooseRoots

Population: 9,886,095
Median Income: 24,483
Population below poverty line in 2010: 16.3%

Increase in poverty from 1980-2010: 5.9%