What are we measuring?
The percentage of families in poverty represents the percentage of households in Fulton County living below poverty level in the past 12 months according the U.S. Census Bureau's definition of poverty. A family is considered to live in poverty if its total income is below a threshold value determined by the size of the family and the number of children in the family. For example, the threshold for a family of four made up of two adults and two children under 18 years was $24,339 in 2016. The threshold for a family with more children is higher while the threshold for two adults with no children is lower.
Why are we measuring it?
Poverty results in a persistent state of economic deprivation for many families in Fulton County. Economic deprivation can lead to hunger, malnutrition, poor health and low educational achievement. Poverty also has broader social consequences by leading those affected to withdraw from social and civic life due to the the lack to economic resources in combination with the shame of not being able to live life like other people. Even when the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are met, the impoverished still find their social sphere limited by not being able to visit restaurants, afford appropriate clothes for a variety of social situations, take vacations or own a car.
How are we doing?
The percentage of families in Fulton County living below poverty level has dropped slightly over the course of the past few years and stood at 10.6% in 2017. But the overall poverty rate masks large differences within the County. These differences can be seen even within the city of Atlanta, where rates range from zero for some neighborhoods in the Buckhead area north Atlanta to over 75% in some neighborhoods in south Atlanta. The map below illustrates how rates vary across the County.
There are also tremendous differences in poverty rates based on the race of the head of household. Only four percent of families in Fulton County with a head of household who is white fell below poverty level while 22.2% of families with an African American head of household lived below poverty level.
Fulton County currently ranks in the middle of its national benchmark counties. Shelby County, Tennessee has the highest percentage at 14.1% while Wake County, Minnesota at 6.2%.