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Good News: Phoenix Metro Area Is Second in the Nation; Bad News: In Poverty

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The Census Bureau has one of those lists where it's not good to be number-one: highest levels of poverty.

Of the top 25 metropolitan areas in the county, Phoenix is second.

According to Census Bureau stats released today, about 17.4 percent of people living in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metropolitan area were below the poverty line in 2012, which is unchanged from 2011. The poverty level in Phoenix alone was more than 24 percent, according to the bureau's estimates.

The national average is slightly less than 16 percent.

The only big metro area with a higher level of poverty is the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California, area, where 19 percent of the people lived under the poverty line last year.

There is a silver lining for Phoenix -- taking the margins of error into account, there's really a six-way tie for second place, including the metro areas around Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, and San Antonio.

Statewide, Arizona's poverty rate is estimated at 18.7 percent for 2012, which is about the fifth-highest level in the country.

That's pretty high compared to previous years. Although Arizona's poverty level was about 19 percent in 2011, it was at 17.4 percent in 2010, 16.5 percent in 2009, and less than 15.6 percent every year before that, going back to 2000.

According to a statement from the Association of Arizona Food Banks, this information isn't surprising.

"The Census poverty figures align with recent food insecurity data published by Feeding America and food hardship data published by the Food Research and Action Center, all of which paint the same picture: In Arizona, one in five individuals and one in four of our children struggle with hunger and poverty," the non-profit's statement says. "These figures have not changed significantly since the recession began in 2008."

Check out all the stats for yourself by clicking here.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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