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State addresses poverty in rural Utah

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(KUTV) Utah's unemployment numbers have long been touted as some of the lowest in the country, but not everyone is doing well. In fact, there are many areas - particularly in rural parts of Utah - that seem to be stuck in what the state calls 'inter-generational poverty'. It is something a state commission is looking into, releasing data it's gathered to local leaders. This past week, Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox along with others in the commission spoke to Sanpete County Commissioner Claudia Jarrett and other local leaders and community members in Sanpete County at a meeting held in Manti's City Hall.

"These are pretty hard numbers," Commissioner Jarrett told 2News, "My county is always like 27th or 28th ranked out of 29 counties for per capita family income. We're also ranked like 5th or 6th for poverty and 5th and 6th for unemployment and those numbers don't change."

She said this is why she was so interested in hearing more from the intergenerational welfare reform commission, which gave out specific numbers about Sanpete County.

"What we're trying to accomplish here is to get everyone who's working on this issue to start working together using the best data we have available and using the best practices we have available," Lt. Governor Cox said.

Cox is from Sanpete County and still resides there with his family.

"I know not all poverty is the same," he explained, "There's situational poverty when a divorce, or loss of job may change things, and for those people the programs that are out there can get them back on their feet."

He said the type of poverty, however, that they were focusing on was different.

"Intergenerational poverty is something is a little more acute here. You don't have some of the same opportunities as you do on the Wasatch front or other places... but we have a sense of community and people willing to work hard to lift people out of that poverty."

He said that was the hope behind these meetings, not only in Sanpete county but in others throughout the state. He hoped they could bring together all those who are trying to help and be able to come up with solutions together.

"Their next step is to assemble the people working on this in their communities to come up with their own plan, come up with their solutions in ways their people will understand."

For more on the commission's goals, click here.

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