PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – From the 1989 to 2015-2019 period, 341 counties in the United States were persistently in poverty, but none of them were in Oregon, according to a new report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

A region is declared to be in persistent poverty if it has maintained poverty rates of 20% or more for the past 30 years. 

A person or family’s poverty status is determined by their income before taxes. Poverty thresholds are updated annually and take into consideration changes in the cost of living using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. 

The report used poverty estimates from the 1990 Census (which collected information in 1989), the 2000 Census, the 2005-2009 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates and the 2015-2019 ACS 5-year estimates to determine which counties in the nation have remained persistently in poverty for 30 years. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 6.1% of the total U.S. population in 2019 lived in a persistent poverty county. 

In Oregon, not a single county remained in persistent poverty over the 30-year period. 

However, in neighboring Washington, Whitman County stayed in persistent poverty and in Idaho, Madison County also qualified. 

Overall, the Pacific Northwest fared well compared to the rest of the U.S. 

This map from a U.S. Census Bureau report released May 9, 2023, shows with counties in the United States remained in persistent poverty from 1989 to 2015-2019.

According to the Census Bureau, 278 of the 241 persistent poverty counties were in the South, which means 54.9% of the persistent poverty population lived in the South. Another significant portion of the population lived in the Northeast region, 28.4%. 

The U.S. Census Bureau report also included information about census tracts that remained in persistent poverty. Like counties, these tracts also represent smaller portions of a state, but the boundaries are adjusted over time depending on the population in the area. 

Researchers say these Census tracts allowed them to identify persistent poverty more precisely. 

In Oregon, 44 out of a total of 834 Census tracts were found to be in persistent poverty. A map provided by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that some of these tracts fall in Northeast Jefferson County, Klamath County, Josephine County, Marion County, Polk County and Multnomah County. 

This map from the U.S. Census Bureau shows which census tracts in the Western United States remained in persistent poverty from 1989 to 2015-2019.

In Portland, tracts in downtown, Southeast, North and Northeast were in persistent poverty, along with a portion of East Portland/Gresham.  

In the future, the U.S. Census Bureau said it will focus on creating more precise population totals that are in persistent poverty. This will help agencies know where to target limited resources. The U.S. Census Bureau also hopes to further examine demographic and economic variables that are consistently shared among counties and census tracts in persistent poverty.