SALT LAKE CITY — Weber County still leads the state and the state’s most populated counties in intergenerational poverty, the latest figures compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services show.
Within Weber County, poverty is most pronounced in the Ogden area.
Intergenerational poverty is a measure of poverty across generations, and tackling it has been a growing priority across the state and in Weber County. A report issued last month by the Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission offered glimmers of hope. More students living in international poverty are graduating from high school, a statement from the group said, and rates of year-round employment among adults in intergenerational poverty have increased.
That said, the problem persists, and DWS figures for Weber County show that the issue is marked here relative to the state as a whole and Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Box Elder and Cache counties. The number of adults aged 21-46 in intergenerational poverty last year totaled:
- 5,044 in Weber County, or 1.97% of the county population
- 795 in Box Elder county, or 1.45% of the population
- 14,754 in Salt Lake County, or 1.28% of the population
- 1,177 in Cache County, or 0.93% of the population
- 3,011 in Davis County, or 0.86% of the population
- 4,838 in Utah County, or 0.78% of the population
The concentrations are even higher when figured only as a share of those in the 21-46 age range, but numbers singling out that age span weren’t immediately available to make such calculations. Adults are defined as being in intergenerational poverty if they’ve tapped public assistance for 12 or more months as an adult and 12 or more months before that as a child.
The figures, collected in connection with last month’s study, are even more dramatic for children. Youth in intergenerational poverty are defined as those 17 and under who have tapped at least a month of public assistance and whose parents are defined as living in intergenerational poverty.
In Weber County, 9% of those aged 17 and under were living in intergenerational poverty in 2018. Statewide, the figure was 6% and as follows elsewhere: 7% in Box Elder County, 6% in Salt Lake County, 5% in Cache County, 4% in Davis County and 3% in Utah County.
Within Weber County, the 84401 zip code, which encompasses eastern, central and western Ogden and the West Haven area, stood out as having the highest concentration of kids in intergenerational poverty. Of the 9,871 kids there, 17.4% of them, 1,720 in all, were identified as living in intergenerational poverty. Similarly, Odyssey and James Madison schools, both in the 84401 zip code, ranked among the 13 Utah schools with the highest concentration of students in intergenerational poverty, with 24.2% and 23.8% of students, respectively, fitting in the category in the 2017-2018 school year.
A whopping 28% of those aged 17 and under in Weber County were at-risk of remaining in poverty. That category includes kids actually living in families defined as being in intergenerational poverty and those in families that may be in poverty for the first time.
Statewide, 23% of kids were at-risk of remaining in poverty. Elsewhere, the figures were 25% in Salt Lake and Box Elder counties, 23% in Cache County, 18% in Utah County and 16% in Davis County.
Weber County received a $150,000 grant from the state last year to launch an initiative focused on fighting intergenerational poverty, called Integrated Community Action Now or I-CAN. The program is aiding around 40 families in Ogden’s central core, assigning each a social worker to give them more intense support in tapping the social services at their disposal. Several other counties also received grants per the state initiative.
Likewise, Weber County officials last June hired Melissa Freigang to lead efforts to fight intergenerational poverty in the county.
Helping children get out of intergenerational poverty is a particular focus of the Weber County efforts, and last month’s Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission report underscores the import of aiding them. Leaving kids mired in poverty “potentially jeopardizes not only their future but the state’s future in lost human capital,” the report reads.