TUPELO – Population estimates for 2012 recently released by the Census show Lee County has slightly increased in population but has also increased in poverty rates compared to a year earlier.
Data from the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey by the Census that provides information annually, released information on counties throughout the nation and communities with populations of 60,000 or higher.
For Lee County, the ACS estimates showed just more than a 1 percent increase in population to 85,042. However, the county has a nearly 5 percent increase in poverty during the same time, an overall estimate of nearly 1 in 5 people. This brings the county closer to the state’s poverty rate of nearly 1 in 4 people.
Data from the ACS released last week helps determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funding is distributed.
In a bright spot for the county, per capita income estimates increased slightly in 2012 compared to a year ago, increasing by $1,371 to $21,371. Continuing with recent years’ trend, Lee County continues to have a higher per capita income compared to Mississippi overall, which was $20,119 in 2012.
While poverty rate estimates increased significantly as did per capita income, Lee County saw sharp increases in poverty rates of a key demographic, single-mother households with children under 18.
In 2012, single-mother households with kids under 18 increased by more than 13 percent to 64.4 percent. However, the margin of error for this group is higher because the number of families sampled was smaller.
Frank Howell, a professor emeritus in sociology at Mississippi State University and a partner in MoniTrends LLC, a Ridgeland-based company that analyzes large volumes of data, said changes in Lee County’s population in recent years could reflect changes in some of the area’s key industries, such as furniture manufacturing.
“When you look at poverty, taking out those better paying jobs in the overall economy will have that kind of impact,” Howell said.
Information for population estimates for the city of Tupelo and municipalities with populations of 20,000 or higher will be available Oct. 22.