There are 37.2 million Americans living in poverty, an increase of 3.3 million people since 2019. In 2020, racial and ethnic minorities continued to be disproportionately affected by poverty, with Black (19.5%) and Hispanic (17%) Americans shown to have poverty rates that were more than twice that of White Americans (8.2%).1

National Poverty in America Awareness Month offers an opportunity to advance health equity for all Americans. Often times when we talk about improving health we think of access to care or improving behaviors, like smoking or diet. These are very important, but there are also many social and economic factors that compromise health and impact a person’s ability to make healthy choices. There is a clear and established relationship between poverty, socioeconomic status and health outcomes. Those living in poverty having an increased risk of chronic conditions, lower life expectancy and barriers to receiving quality health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly impacted low-income families. This problem is real and impacts so many individuals residing in the Dakotas.

In North Dakota, an estimated 78,112 individuals are living in poverty and over ten percent of persons have incomes below the poverty line ($25,926 for a family of four) in 2019.2

In South Dakota, an estimated 101,946 individuals are living in poverty and nearly 12 percent of persons have incomes below the poverty line ($25,926 for a family of four) in 2019.3

Access additional statistics on poverty in the Dakotas, including poverty rates by age and gender, employment, community factors and insurance coverage:

  1. North Dakota Poverty Stats
  2. South Dakota Poverty Stats

As a healthcare community, we can do better to meet the needs of our community by better understanding the complexities and barriers faced and showing empathy. Also, it is important to identifying and better understanding programs to assist individuals with housing needs, transportation issues and nutrition guidance – and serving as a liaison to such resources.

CMS and other federal programs offer a variety of resources to help people learn how to access their health coverage, manage health care costs and fully utilize their benefits. Visit the CMS Office of Minority Health website to learn more. Access the Healthy People 2030 Report which explains and provides solutions to social determinants of health (SDOH); which are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.

Additional Information:


  1. Income and Poverty in the United States; US Census 2020 
  2. 2022 Center for American Progress; 2020 North Dakota Report
  3. 2022 Center for American Progress; 2020 South Dakota Report