Midwestern states including Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin -- likely election battlegrounds in what is shaping up to be a tight contest between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain -- have been particularly hard-hit by an exodus of high-paying manufacturing jobs.
Newly released US Census Bureau data show that nine out of the 20 US cities with the highest poverty rates were in the Midwest, and nine of the 20 cities with the lowest median incomes were in the region.
The city with the lowest median income last year -- $24,941 -- is Youngstown, Ohio, where Obama is set to campaign a few days after the Democratic Party Convention in Denver. The region's poverty rate has climbed 22% between 1999 and 2006 compared to a 7 % rise for the nation as a whole, said Amy Rynell of the Heartland Alliance, which tracks the issue.
"We've heard poverty talked about more in this campaign than we have in the past -- by both parties," she said.