San Antonio Poverty Rate Tops List Of Large Metro Areas | Texas Public Radio

San Antonio Poverty Rate Tops List Of Large Metro Areas

Sep 26, 2019

The San Antonio metropolitan area has the highest poverty rate in the country out of the 25 largest metro areas, according to 2018 survey estimates released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The 2018 American Community Survey found that about 15.4% of people in the San Antonio metro area lived below the poverty line in 2018, up from 14.6% in 2017.

But because the percentage increase falls within the margin of error, it’s impossible to know whether or not more people in the region lived in poverty in 2018 than they did the year before.

“When you take into account the fact that it’s coming from survey data that has sampling error, the difference from last year to this — you can’t say with statistical certainty that it’s different,” said Texas state demographer Lloyd Potter.

Because the region’s increase isn’t statistically significant, Census spokesman Michael Freidrich said his agency doesn’t consider it to be an increase at all.

Either way, the San Antonio metro area has a high poverty rate compared to other large metro areas across the country. It had the second highest poverty rate in 2017, just behind Detroit.

The city of San Antonio has an even higher poverty rate: 20%, up from 17.3% in 2017 and 5 percentage points higher than Texas as a whole.

Potter said San Antonio’s high poverty rate isn’t surprising because it has a higher percentage of Latinos than most large cities in the country.

“The Latino population statewide, nationally, tends to have lower levels of educational attainment and along with that goes lower levels of income,” Potter said.

However, Amy Knop-Narbutis with the left-leaning think tank Center for Public Policy Priorities said it was shocking that San Antonio topped the list of poverty rates for large metro areas.

She said the American Community Survey showed Texas was one of only nine states in the country where income inequality got worse from 2017 to 2018.

“We’ve heard a lot in the past years about the Texas Miracle, about Texas faring better from the recession than others and having relatively low unemployment rates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all Texans are benefiting equally from that economic prosperity,” Knop-Narbutis said.

The metro areas with the highest poverty rates in Texas are along the U.S.-Mexico border: McAllen, Brownsville and Laredo.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@TPR.org and on Twitter at @cmpcamille.