A new Census Bureau study shows that the Republican-voting south is feeling the effects of the recession more than the rest of the country.
The number of people living in poverty areas, or areas where at least 20 percent of the population is living below the federal poverty line, in the south increased by nine percent between 2000 and 2010, going from roughly 21 million people to over 34 million. This number is alarming, given that the northeast only saw an increase of 3.3 percent, going from around 2.7 million people to just over 3.4 million.
Out of the six states with the highest increase in poverty, five of them were in the south: North Carolina (+17.9%), Tennessee (+16%), Arkansas (+15.7%), Georgia (+14.6%), and South Carolina (+14.4%). What this means is that nearly a third of all Southerners are now living in poverty areas.
While these numbers are depressing, they should not come as a shock. The south currently leads the nation in not just poverty, but in teen birth rates, cigarette smokers, and obesity. It falls behind in wages, access to healthcare, and economic mobility, all of which cost the states, and the federal government, millions of dollars.
Out of the 10 states most dependent upon the federal government, half are in the south. Mississippi ranks number one, with over 45 percent of its yearly revenue coming from federal funds.
These numbers make it obvious that the Republican party is hurting the south. With their tax cuts for the wealthy, destroying safety nets for the poor, and reducing funds to educational programs, the GOP has managed to make life much, much worse for those who consistently vote for them.
Conservatives have hurt the south for years by convincing its residents to vote against their own interests. If they are able to expand their faulty policies into the rest of the country, the damage done will most likely be irreparable.