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Census: Number of Alabamians in poverty increases

The number of Alabama residents living in poverty has increased, as has the number of Alabamians without health insurance, according to new Census data.

More than 670,000 Alabamians, or 16.8 percent of residents under age 65, lacked health insurance in 2008-09, according to Census data, said Kimble Forrister, executive director of the ARISE Citizens Policy Project.

That figure is up from 15.4 percent in 2006-07, though the change falls within the margin of error. For Alabama children, the uninsured rate fell from 7.4 percent in 2006-07 to 5.8 percent in 2008-09, largely because of a dramatic increase in Medicaid coverage.

Medicaid enrollment in Alabama has increased by more than 150,000 since 2006-07, including about 112,000 more children, according to Census data. That 28 percent Medicaid increase came amid rising unemployment that resulted in fewer Alabamians receiving health insurance through employers.

More than one in seven Alabamians, or 15.4 percent, were in poverty in 2008-09. That figure was above the national average of 13.8 percent and up from the state’s average of 14.4 percent in 2006-07, though the change falls within the margin of error. Alabama’s median household income has held steady since 2006-07.