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Springfield's poverty rate falls to 5-year low

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Last edited 8:16 a.m., April 2, 2021

The Prosper Springfield initiative announced the city's poverty rate declined to a five-year low, but nonprofit officials say there's much more room for improvement to be made.

Springfield's poverty rate over the time period dropped to 22.9%, though that's still higher than the tallies at the state and national levels, according to a news release.

“We all know that the economy plays a big part in workforce and impacts to poverty," said Francine Pratt, executive director of Prosper Springfield, in the release. "Private, public and social sectors have and will continue to need to align to remove barriers that impact poverty.”

Officials in 2015 sought to move the needle by 5 percentage points by 2025. At the time, the poverty rate was 29.7%.

The Prosper Springfield report indicates greater poverty reductions for two of the larger subgroup populations in Springfield: the African American/Black rate was down 13.2% over the past seven years and the Hispanic/Latinx population had a drop of 15.6% over that same time period. Nonprofit officials are looking closer at the data that indicate the poverty level for the Asian population increased.

“Populations have increased slightly for Blacks and decreased slightly for Latinx," Pratt said in the release. "So, we feel comfortable in saying that the population decreases are not because a large number of either subgroup has left the area."

To further reduce the city's poverty rate, stakeholders are working on completing unfinished credentials, adding more short-term training programs and increasing local apprenticeships. Phase II of the plan calls on the reduction of disparities in the poverty rate and postsecondary attainment for large subgroup populations in Springfield, according to the release.

Prosper Springfield is backed by Community Partnership of the Ozarks Inc.

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