Students Impact Census Bureau Survey of College Station

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According to the Census Bureau's annual snapshot of America, College Station ranks as having one of the highest poverty ratings for small to mid-size cities in the United States.

The ranking is based on questionnaires mailed out in 2005. Data depicted the household population, excluding residents living in medical institutions and college dorms.

But there's a catch.

Forty-four percent of College Station residents surveyed between the ages of 18 and 64 fell in the poverty level.

But, if you take away the college students, according to Jim Gaines an economist with Texas A&M University, College Station's poverty rating is 10 percent below the national average.

"So many of our students at the university live off campus in apartments, houses and other things," Gaines said. "They got counted so their income data got mixed in there and it came out statistically to show us with a very high rate of poverty."

The Department of Health and Human Services bases poverty on annual household income and the size of the family. A family of five making a combined maximum income of about $23,000 is considered to be living in poverty.

And even though the poverty rating may not be as high as the Census Bureau reported, it's still an issue.

"What we have is a very underemployment rate," Hank Roraback with the United Way of the Brazos Valley said. "We've got families that may have someone working one, two, three jobs between the mom and dad, and they just can't get it together. They just can't make ends meet."

And residents are up against students when it comes to jobs.

"They're competing with students who need the work temporarily," Gaines said. "Generally they'll work for a lower income just to have a job."

The unemployment rate remains low for the area, but experts say so is the pay at many jobs residents are securing.

The Census Bureau statistics may look alarming, but the city of College Station says the federal government considers the statistics when distributing grant money.

The city says the higher the number, the greater possibility of receiving a larger amount of federal funding.