State median income rises
About 16,000 people rose from poverty, a Census report says
Hawaii's median household income rose by $2,316 to $63,746 last year, and about 16,000 people here rose out of poverty, according to a Census Bureau report from information largely collected before the current economic slowdown.
Estimates of income, poverty and insurance for 2007.
Median household income
» Hawaii: $63,476
» U.S.: $50,740
living below the poverty level
» Hawaii: 8% (100,051 people)
» U.S.: 13% (36.5 million)
» Hawaii children: 9.8% (37,608)
» U.S. children: 18% (12.8 million)
» Hawaii: 8.3% (105,000 people)
» U.S.: 15.5% (45.8 million)
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
The Census Bureau's annual report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage showed Hawaii was one of 12 states that saw a decrease in poverty last year.
Still, about 8 percent of the population, a little over 100,000 people, more than 37,000 of them children, live below the poverty level in Hawaii. The poverty level for a four-person family in 2007 was $21,203.
Hawaii was also among five states with the lowest rate of people without health insurance. About 8.3 percent of the state's population, about 105,000 people, go without health insurance.
Nationally, however, about one in five native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, about 20.5 percent, are without health insurance. The census does not break down the number of native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders without health insurance by state.
State Human Services Director Lillian Koller said the numbers are not a surprise; the number of people in poverty here has been declining since 2006 and Hawaii has consistently been a leader among states in health-insurance coverage.
"We're pleased," Koller said. "This continues the trend."
Despite the current economic slowdown, Koller says she expects the decline in poverty and the increase in insured rates to continue.
"For those who are the neediest, we will continue to have a positive impact," she said.
Koller credits her department's use of federal funds to pay for programs to help people at risk of falling into poverty avoid welfare and to get people on welfare back to work for reducing the number of people living below the poverty level.
She said demand and interest from businesses in state programs to hire and train people on welfare have increased.
In March, Koller noted, the state started a new Keiki Care initiative to expand health-insurance coverage for children. That initiative should further decrease the number of people without health insurance next year, she said.
Nationally, the number of people without health insurance fell by more than 1 million to 45.7 million as government insurance programs cover more people. The number of people covered by private insurance declined.
The national uninsured rate fell to 15.3 percent, down from 15.8 percent in 2006.
Overall, the Census Bureau reported 37.3 million people living in poverty in 2007, of which 13.3 million were children.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.