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Idaho’s poverty rate continued its upward climb in 2011, rising to 16.5 percent. That’s higher than the national rate of people living in poverty, which grew to 15.9 percent last year.Put another way, more than 255,000 Idahoans lived below the federal poverty guideline last year.The state’s poverty rate has climbed each year since 2007, when 12.1 percent of state residents lived below the poverty line. While the rate grew by 1.4 percent from 2008 to 2009 and again from 2009 to 2010, it grew by less than a percentage point from 2010 to 2011.

Trump Proposal Could Change How Many People Get SNAP, Medicaid And Other Benefits

U.S. Census Bureau
Poverty by state in the U.S.

According to a new analysis, proposed changes to the federal poverty line could mean big changes for low income people in the Mountain West.

The Trump Administration wants to change how the poverty line is calculated every year for inflation.

"That sounds technical,  says Aviva Aron-Dine with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research group. "But what it would mean is it would lower the poverty line relative to what it would otherwise be."

Aron-Dine says the reason that’s important is because the poverty line determines who can get all kinds of government assistance: free lunch for students, food stamps, or SNAP benefits, Medicaid. 

"I think people are sometimes under the mistaken impression that people in the Mountain West don’t rely on federal help to get health care, or to put food on the table," she says.

The proposal could have an especially large effect on some rural communities in our region where poverty rates are particularly high. 

The comment period for the proposal ends this week. 

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho,  KUNR in Nevada, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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