Jay Evensen: Is Provo really an impoverished city?

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  • Old But Not Stupid Moorpark, CA
    Aug. 21, 2014 3:45 p.m.


    "I thought a degree from BYU was rated as one of the top financial values with more earning power than any university in the country. Just not in Provo I guess."

    Very simplistic statement to summarize a very complex issue.

    For example, the VAST majority of individuals earning a degree from BYU move out of town/out of state on graduation, so they are not in Provo long-term. So their earning power is reflected in the communities in which they settle.

  • JinaYi87 Norman, OK
    Aug. 21, 2014 11:03 a.m.

    @statman. One important aspect that the Bishaw study overlooks is that there is a significant population of married students who are living in poverty in Provo. Unlike most other college places in the country, Provo has a high number of married college students. And many of them live in poverty. Why all of the sudden does being a student disqualify someone from being considered impoverished? Does the fact that a married man or woman also takes college classes make them ineligible for being considered poor?

    And, there is not much in the ways of social statistics that negates the fact that there are a lot of extremely rich people on Y mountain. And a lot of poor people right under their feet.

  • statman Lehi, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:47 p.m.

    Google "bishaw.pdf" and click on the top link. It's to a census bureau site where a paper on this very topic is published "Examining the Effects of Off-Campus College Students on Poverty Rates" (or you can just google the title of the paper!).

    In Table 6, page 20 of the document, you'll see "Provo City" listed on line 4. The data show that between 2009 & 2011, roughly 32.5% of the residents of Provo were at some time classified as living below the poverty level. Factor students living off-campus, however, and that percentage drops by over a third to 21.5%. Which puts the rate of poverty in the city of Provo significantly lower on the list of places with high rates of poverty.

    Bottom line more than a third of those "in poverty" in Provo are students living off campus.

  • statman Lehi, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:15 p.m.

    What in tucket - the astronomical growth of UVU indeed plays a big role. Roughly half of those living in the area of UVU live in Provo, many because BYU approved housing now can take students from other schools - mostly UVU, but also some local trade schools.

    Another big impact comes from a part of Obamacare - that health insurance companies must insure children of their insured up to the age of 26, regardless of whether that child is a dependent for tax purposes, This allows a student to file from Provo where they live and work full-time, and not have to file from their parent's home address to be eligible as an adult defendant student as most insurance companies required in the past. This also allows low-income students to get a variety government benefits.

    And yes there is a real poverty issue in Provo, just as there is in most Utah cities - and most cities in the US for that matter.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:11 p.m.

    I'm close to the situation and so I have to agree with many of the other previous posters.

    It's Reaganomics at it's finest.

    The richie 1 percent lives on the east side. They employ thousands of cheap laborers. Most of these are cheap college students just trying to make ends meet and illegals. So a handful make a killing while the rest wallow in poverty. Those who can leave, do so. Years of republican policy has encouraged illegal immigration. In fact, they love it because they don't have to pay good wages or give any benefits. The repubs only answer for illegal immigration is amnesty (Reagan & Bush)

    Rampant poverty is a common symptom of places that have been ravaged by failed trickle down nonsense. Just look at how many southern red states are wallowing in poverty and demanding welfare handouts.

    We need to become less a right to work state and become are right to a livable wage state. Junk failed right wing economics promoted by an actor.

  • JinaYi87 Norman, OK
    Aug. 20, 2014 10:36 p.m.

    As someone who got multiple degrees from BYU after an eternity at the place, I whole heartedly agree with the statements concerning the mansions on the hillside versus the shanties in the valley. There is a frightening wealth discrepancy in Provo.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 10:10 p.m.

    Go down to The Boulders apartments. It isn't BYU student housing but families, many Hispanic, trying hard to eek out a living.

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 6:50 p.m.

    If you think Provo is 95% Republican, or BYU students are 95% Republican, you need to spend some time in Provo.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Aug. 20, 2014 5:10 p.m.

    Gotta ask the NEXT question then...

    How many of these Utah County
    [95% GOP, hard-core Republicans],
    are qualifying for and taking Government;

    Financial Aid,
    WIC programs,

    Before anyone begins throwing stones at me,
    I confess --
    I'm really OK with it,
    That's what they're there for,
    use them,
    get through college,
    get a good job,
    be thankful,
    then pay it back and pay it forward via taxes!

    but then again --
    that's what makes me a Liberal.

    BTW Like Jesus --
    What I really can't stand is those who are Hypocrites.

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 4:37 p.m.

    What in Tucket?

    Many BYU students live in Orem. With UVU there, why isn't Orem growing as fast as Provo? I think that has been answered.

  • Unreconstructed Reb Chantilly, VA
    Aug. 20, 2014 3:32 p.m.

    While at BYU, I heard from an economics professor that if one was to draw a line starting on the east bench of Provo and move it southwest to the southern boundary of the town, and map incomes along that line, one would find the sharpest drop in incomes over a comparatively short distance anywhere in the country.

    I can't speak to the data behind that assertion, but I found it deeply troubling. And this was over a decade ago, so this is not a recent issue.

    More Saints should read Hugh Nibley's "Approaching Zion" - Nibley had profoundly stinging criticisms for those who ignore the stark inequality in our midst. As a longtime resident of Provo, Nibley had ample observations to draw upon.

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 2:15 p.m.

    I thought a degree from BYU was rated as one of the top financial values with more earning power than any university in the country. Just not in Provo I guess.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    You don't have to spend a whole lot of time in Provo to realize the problem.

    Illegals work in all the fast food shops and construction sites. Since they will work for substandard wages THEY also contribute substantially to the poverty rates.

    The irony is when I see them building the McMansions on the west and extreme east side of Provo - most likely for someone who ENABLES their lawbreaking!

    It used to be that they only came to Provo/Orem areas during the summer to work the orchards (I worked alongside them BTW), now they work - well, pretty much everywhere so that the contractors can make even more $$$.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 1:40 p.m.

    I don't know if this would affect the calculation, but Provo has a lot of UVU students living here plus other colleges. It is not just BYU

  • Raiders11 OGDEN, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 1:35 p.m.

    One thing is for certain there is poverty everywhere in Utah one thing that needs to be addressed is what about the other college towns that are in Utah are they in poverty when they have colleges in them for example Salt Lake with UofU and Logan with Utah State. or even Ogden with Weber state. all of these cities have colleges in them and we all have portions of the city that are poor.

    I don't believe for a second that it is just because BYU is in Provo that is causing Provo to be ranked that high on the list.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    So if the student population is more or less constant how come Provo's poverty is growing? It's growing because of the very soft economy. I suspect Utah County is a lot like Davis County with wealth on the hill, but grinding poverty on the flats. My wife taught at one of the Davis County elementary schools - she'll tell you there is plenty of poverty there.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:39 a.m.

    "That is true in any college town, but it is especially true in one with an institution as unique as BYU. Many students in Provo are married with children. "

    This is the sort of thing (young married couples who have children quickly) that gives Utah a higher rate of 47%ers than you'd think for a state that has one of the lowest unemployment rates.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:33 a.m.

    BYU has been there for over 140 years...
    There has always been a higher student ratio in Provo.

    What the writer is missing - or intentionally ignoring to make a case - is the fact that the study is showing that the rate of poverty is "Increasing",
    and at 4 times the rate as anywhere else.

    I'm not an economist nor a BYU fan,
    but I can tell you that BYU students have not magically QUADRULPED in number over the last 8 years in Provo.

    Therefore --
    This has little to nothing to do with the number of students
    [which, as I have previsouly pointed out -- have ALWAYS been there],
    and Everything to do with
    a crummy economy,
    earnings not keeping up with inflation,
    a growing number of minimum wage jobs,
    a minimum wage that is not going up,
    a complete lack and growth of higher paying jobs...

    Deal with the FACTS, please.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:24 a.m.

    It's been long acknowledged that Utah workers will accept lower wages/salaries. Reimbursement for many types of things are lower here in Utah for myriad reasons. Granted, $100 here will get you $106 in goods, but that certainly doesn't make up for it.

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:12 a.m.

    If this explanation was true, all the college towns would be on the list. They are not. Perhaps we need to look at Provo again, and realize that it's changed.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:07 a.m.

    Yes there is a large population in Provo and Orem that live in poverty. And it's not just the student population. My sister teaches in an elementary school in one of the impoverished Orem neighborhoods... and it's staggering to hear the stories of kids who are super poor, and stories of parents who don't seem to care about their kids and their education, or even care if they learn to speak English or not.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Aug. 20, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    Poverty is contextual. Provo is impoverished in many ways, although perhaps not financially.