Southern Arizona Cities and Towns Poverty Report 2015

Author(s):
Jennifer Pullen, Research Economist
Published:
05-03-2017

In 2015, the poverty rate varied substantially across cities, towns, and census designated places located in Southern Arizona. Hereafter, when discussing multiple cities, towns, and census designated places the general term places will be used. Several places reported poverty rates that were significantly below the U.S. rate of 15.5%. Green Valley posted the lowest rate at 5.2%, while Oro Valley, Marana, Sahuarita, and Morenci ranged between 5.6% – 6.8%. Conversely, more than half of Southern Arizona places exceeded the U.S. poverty rate. South Tucson reported the highest rate at 48.7%, more than 12 percentage points above Eloy with the second highest rate of 36.2%.  Figure 1 highlights the total poverty rate for the 27 places examined.

Figure 1: Poverty Rate (2015)

Why is it important?

The poverty rate is one measure, among many, that we use to gauge the well-being of a region. It identifies the percentage of an area’s residents that may have financial difficulties. Those individuals or families whose income falls near or below the poverty level may have a hard time acquiring basic necessities such as housing, food, and healthcare.

How do we compare?

In 2015, the poverty rate for children under 18 was above the U.S. rate of 21.7% for 18 Southern Arizona places. South Tucson reported the highest rate with 65.9% of children under 18 living in poverty. Eloy followed closely behind with a rate of 58.1%. Only nine Southern Arizona places fell below the U.S. poverty rate. Of those nine, Oro Valley posted the lowest rate at 5.8% followed by Clifton at 7.8%. Maricopa city and Marana had poverty rates for children under 18 that were 9.0% and 9.9% respectively. Keep in mind that the estimated poverty rate for very small areas may not be very precise, thus in some cases differences may not be statistically significant. Figure 2 below illustrates the poverty rate for children under 18 and children under five.

Poverty rates for young children tend to be particularly important to policymakers. In addition, these rates also tend to be higher than those for children under the age of 18 for the state and many Southern Arizona places. The national poverty rate for children under five was 24.5%, while the state of Arizona posted a slightly higher rate at 28.7%. Of the 27 places examined in Southern Arizona, Ajo posted the highest poverty rate for children under five at 67.6%, while Marana posted the lowest at 6.0%. Figure 2 below illustrates the poverty rate for children under 18 and children under five.

Figure 2: Poverty Rate for Children (2015)

In general, men had a lower poverty rate than women in Southern Arizona. This is consistent with what was reported for the U.S. and the state of Arizona. Across the city of Tucson, state of Arizona, and the U.S., the poverty rate was on average two percentage points higher for women, a statistically significant difference. Florence posted the most substantial difference when comparing genders, with the poverty rate for women 12.6 percentage points higher. Figure 3 explores the differences in poverty rates by gender.

Figure 3: Poverty Rate by Gender (2015)

In 2015, several Southern Arizona places reported poverty rates that were higher for the Hispanic and Latino population than the white, non-Hispanic population. The poverty rate for Hispanics and Latinos in Douglas was 33.6%, while white, non-Hispanics reported a rate of 9.1%, more than a 20 percentage point difference. Marana, Sahuarita, and Safford reported nearly identical poverty rates for white, non-Hispanics and Hispanic or Latino residents. Many of the 27 Southern Arizona places reported differences similar to the U.S. and the state of Arizona. Figure 4 highlights the differences in poverty rates between the white, non-Hispanic population and the Hispanic and Latino population for select Southern Arizona places.

Figure 4: Poverty Rate by Ethnicity (2015)

Families with children under 18 tend to have higher poverty rates, especially single-headed households, when compared to the overall poverty rate for a region. The exception is married couple households with children under 18. South Tucson posted the highest poverty rate for families with children under 18 at 55.9%, while Oro Valley had the lowest rate at 5.2%. The poverty rate was substantially higher in Southern Arizona, the state of Arizona, and the U.S., for female-headed households with children under 18 and no spouse present. Oro Valley had the lowest poverty rate for female-headed households with children under 18 at 7.5%. All but four Southern Arizona places had poverty rates exceeding 25.0% for female-headed households with children under 18, with Bisbee and South Tucson near 70.0% in 2015. Use Figure 5 to explore the vast differences among family types with children under 18.

Figure 5: Poverty Rate by Family Type (2015)

What are the key trends?

The poverty rate decreased in 10 of the 27 Southern Arizona places between 2000 and 2015. The city of Maricopa posted the most significant decrease of 15.3 percentage points, with the poverty rate falling from 23.4% in 2000 to only 8.1% in 2015. Bisbee and Ajo reported a substantial rise in the poverty rate during this period with increases of over 11 percentage points. The poverty rate for the state of Arizona and the nation increased by 4.3% and 3.1% respectively during this time-period.  Figure 6 illustrates the trend in poverty rates for Southern Arizona places.

Figure 6: Poverty Rate Trend

Location 2000 2015   Location 2000 2015   Location 2000 2015
Ajo 22.3% 33.6%   Globe 11.4% 19.8%   Sahuarita 5.7% 6.2%
Benson 13.7% 22.1%   Green Valley 3.0% 5.2%   San Luis 35.8% 30.2%
Bisbee 17.5% 29.1%   Marana 6.2% 5.8%   Sierra Vista 10.5% 12.7%
Casa Grande 16.0% 16.9%   Maricopa 23.4% 8.1%   Somerton 26.6% 31.5%
Clifton 11.5% 9.2%   Miami 23.6% 21.1%   South Tucson 46.5% 48.7%
Coolidge 24.7% 27.4%   Morenci 3.0% 6.8%   Thatcher 20.2% 17.1%
Douglas 36.6% 32.0%   Nogales 33.9% 32.7%   Tucson 18.4% 25.3%
Eloy 31.9% 36.2%   Oro Valley 3.1% 5.6%   Willcox 27.0% 18.0%
Florence 7.0% 16.8%   Safford 17.3% 16.9%   Yuma 14.7% 18.4%
Location 2000 2015   Location 2000 2015
Arizona 13.9% 18.2%   United States 12.4% 15.5%

How is it measured?

All data provided for Southern Arizona places, state of Arizona, and the U.S. come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is a nationwide rolling-sample survey that produces one and five-year estimates for demographic, social, housing, and economic measures.  Data are only available as five-year estimates for areas with populations smaller than 20,000. In order to compare the Southern Arizona cities, towns, and census designated places with the state of Arizona and the U.S. all data provided in this analysis utilized five-year estimates.