Home > Archived: Keep the percentage of residents above the poverty level 1.7% higher than the national rate

Archived: Keep the percentage of residents above the poverty level 1.7% higher than the national rate

Supplemental Information
Why is this a priority?

The serious consequences of living in long-term poverty include persistent, frequent and severe health problems, increased family stress and risk for homelessness. Living in poverty can become a self-perpetuating cycle that affects generations. A recent study from the Columbia University Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed that government safety net programs have helped reduce poverty in America. CBPP Tracking Washington’s poverty rate informs planning and budget development for safety net programs across the state.


Washington's per capita personal income has outperformed the nation. Per capita personal income is derived by dividing the total personal income of a region by its population.

For more information see pages 53 and 54 of the Washington State Economic Climate Study at http://www.erfc.wa.gov/publications/documents/climate2013.pdf


Washington state’s annual earnings per job ranked 8th in the nation in 2012.

For more information see pages 57 and 58 of the Washington State Economic Climate Study at http://www.erfc.wa.gov/publications/documents/climate2013.pdf

How are we doing?

The Washington state poverty rate has been over the national rate - averaging 1.7% higher than the national level for most of the last decade. The only year in which the Washington rate dipped slightly below the national level was 2004. In 2001 and 2002 Washington dipped below the target, but remained above the national rate. The recent recession is reflected in declining rates since 2009, though Washington did stay 1.7% above the national average. In 2012 Washington showed a strong increase compared to the nation.

What are we working on?
  • The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) provides economic supports for low-income families and employment programs for people with disabilities. The Economic Services Administration (ESA) provides help to low-income families to lift them out of poverty and reduce their chances of needing future assistance. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) helps individuals with disabilities obtain permanent jobs that provide prevailing wages and benefits through education, job training and job-match services. The Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) provides access to employment and other community activities. Finally, the Behavioral Health and Service Integration Administration (BHSIA) is applying to become an employment network for the federal Ticket-to-Work program to help people who receive disability benefits return to work, or work for the first time.
  • The Department of Commerce WorkFirst programs provide statewide transitional jobs and work experience programs to serve WorkFirst participants with multiple barriers to employment. The Community Jobs program consists of up to six months of paid employment at a worksite combined with education/training and issue resolution. The Job Connection program consists of up to three months of paid employment at a worksite, paired with targeted job hunting activities and mentoring opportunities. The Career Development program provides up to twelve months in an unpaid volunteer work experience to participants to support their engagement in an education pathway. The Community Works program provides an unpaid volunteer work experience for one to twelve months. Each of these programs provides tools to assist individuals in gaining employment.
  • Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) helps to reduce poverty through multiple programs including assistance with access to medical services and reduction of pharmaceutical costs. Providing Vets with pensions, disability compensation and medical/pharmaceutical support should increase the money they have available for other needs such as food and transportation. Pensions may raise them above the poverty threshold and the other supports can alleviate stress and improve health. The Department assists with the connection of veterans and their families to federal Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation and pension to which they are entitled, as well as provides employment-related assistance. Additionally, DVA runs the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. This program provides needs and skills assessment, job readiness services, basic skills training, therapeutic work, résumé development and employment opportunity referrals, as well as 90, 180, and 270-day job retention. Veterans Affairs also assists incarcerated Veterans with job referral and placement services.
  • Washington State's Employment Security Department (ESD) works to increase the number of workers in occupations who earn an average of at least $35,000 annually. ESD connects more students with internships and career information. Work is being done to connect more veterans, older workers, individuals who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, people with disabilities and other long-term unemployed to employment. ESD completes a workforce development (WorkSource) support system, including integrated job posting, job seeker management, and career management. Employee-driven continuous improvement and employee skills training across the workforce development system are being implemented. A robust worker supply-employer demand model is being developed to support education and training programs in high-demand fields.
How can you help?
  • The Washington State Department of Commerce helps grow and improve jobs in Washington State. For more information please visit Department of Commerce
  • Serving Washingtonians, Choose Washington is designed to help businesses relocate to Washington, and to help existing business grow, expand and succeed in the global marketplace. Helping to end homelessness through collaboration. Building Changes
  • Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) provide promote coordination between education, training and employment efforts in their communities. 
  • The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges' Job Skills Program provides training customized to meet employers' specific needs. Training is delivered to new or current employees at the work site or in a classroom. For more information please visit http://www.wtb.wa.gov/WDCStrategicPlans.asp
  • WorkFirst is Washington's welfare reform program. The program helps low income families who qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) prepare for and go to work through employment services, training, child care, and other support activities. For more information please visit http://www.commerce.wa.gov/serving-communities/community-opportunities/w...
  • WorkSource is sponsored by the state Employment Security Department, local Workforce Development Councils, and an array or various other workforce development partners to address the employment needs of job seekers and human resource needs of employers throughout Washington State. WorkSource Centers provide all the information, technology and services job seekers need to achieve successful careers. They represent a unique concetpt in the labor market - everything in one place. For more information please visit https://www.worksourcewa.com/microsite/Content.aspx?appid=MGSWAINFO&seo=...
  • Washington States Employment Security Department (ESD) offers job seekers tools. The website offers job openings and job seeking tools.