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Tallahassee, Gainesville Poverty Rates Greatly Skewed By Students

Tallahassee skyline

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows poverty rates in college towns are greatly skewed. And numbers in two of Florida’s college towns are among the nation’s most inflated.

The report shows Tallahassee and Gainesville have the country’s two most inflated poverty rates for cities of more than 100,000 people.  The reason is the large student population in both places. Take students out of the calculation, and Tallahassee’s poverty rate falls about 12 percent. Gainesville’s falls about 16 percent.

Gainesville’s principal city planner, Onelia  Lazarri, says, “What we have generally done in the past is use median family income, and as a result that excludes the students, because the family income is more reflective, again, of the working folks.”

Lazarri says city planners generally use local poverty rates in requesting funding for federal low-income housing, planning economic development and advertising their communities to businesses.

Census researchers say the report shows college towns should consider using alternate poverty measures that exclude students.