Although the recession technically ended in 2009 and national and local economies should have been improving, increasing numbers of West Virginians and Americans suffered very low incomes in 2011.
The share of West Virginians living in poverty grew to 18.6 percent in 2011, up from 18.1 percent in 2010. Nationwide, 15.9 percent of people lived in poverty in 2011, up from 15.3 percent in 2010.
The figures come from U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data released Sept. 20 and are based on a 2011 table in which the poverty threshold for a family of four, for example, is $22,811. Thresholds are based largely on the price of food.
By age group, the share living in poverty in West Virginia increased the most among working-age adults, ages 18-64: 18.5 percent in 2011, up from 17.8 percent in 2010.
The state lost ground with the rest of the country, with the state median household income falling from 77.1 percent to 76.2 percent of the national median. Mississippi alone among the states fell below West Virginia in median household income, at $36,919 in 2011.
Health insurance also took a tumble in 2011. Statewide, the share of the population uninsured grew from 14.6 percent to 14.9 percent.
Nationwide, health insurance coverage among young adults increased 3.6 percent, from 68.3 percent in 2009 to 71.8 percent in 2011.