Poverty in Pierce County


Where would family financial stability programs and targeted outreach have the greatest impact for young children in poverty?

Children in poverty exist throughout Pierce County, but not equally. There are several areas in Pierce County with extremely high populations of young children (under age 12) living in households with income below the federal poverty level. The concentration and number of children in poverty is highest in the Tacoma/Lakewood area, where there are more young children in poverty than the rest of Pierce County combined. This is also the most racially and culturally diverse area of the County. 

“Children growing up in low-income families face many challenges that children from more advantaged families do not. These children are more likely to experience multiple family transitions, move frequently, and change schools. The neighborhoods they live in are more disadvantaged.

The parents of these children have fewer resources to invest in them and, as a consequence, their homes have fewer cognitively stimulating materials, and their parents invest less in their education. The stress of living in poverty and struggling to meet daily needs can also impair parenting.” (Wagmiller, Robert Lee, and Robert M. Edelman, 2009)


I created some visualization maps to show children 11 and under living in households below the Federal Poverty Level in Pierce County. I used the most recent American Community Survey Data. I’m certain there are people in areas not counted and the federal poverty level is very very low, but this at least gives people data to consider when funding programs and thinking about outreach strategies.

Poverty is most concentrated on the Eastside of Tacoma. In some of these neighborhoods, the number of children in poverty is 25 times higher compared to neighborhoods less than a mile away.

Children under 12 in Poverty and School Free or Reduced Lunch Rate (ACS, 2014)

Children under 12 in Poverty and School Academic Index (ACS, 2014)

Children under 12 in Poverty and School Academic Index (ACS, 2014)

Families Type in Poverty by Race (ACS, 2014)


Data Sheet for Poverty by Family Type & Race

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