It would take seven FedEx Forums to hold the nearly 133,000 African-Americans who live below the poverty line in Memphis.
You’d need one and a half FedEx Forums for the estimated 26,000 white Memphians who are poor.
And Latinos who live below the poverty line — about 13,750 — would only fill up three-quarters of the forum, which seats just over 18,000 people for basketball games.
Released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday, the 2016 American Community Survey has few bright spots for a city measuring how far it’s come since Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated here nearly 50 years ago while in pursuit of economic justice for black sanitation workers.
The federal poverty guideline is $12,060 for a single adult, $16,240 for a family of two, $20,420 for a family of three or $24,600 for a family of four.
A minimum wage employee who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year will earn $15,080 before taxes — or well below the poverty line if the employee has a child. A living wage in Memphis is around $12 an hour, or just under $25,000 for an employee working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.
Because Tennessee has no state minimum wage, the default is the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
The poverty rate for African Americans was 32.3 percent (132,969 people) in 2016, up from 30.1 percent (121,371) in 2015.
Fewer white people are poor. In 2016, the white poverty rate was 14.8 percent (26,263), down from 15.9 percent (30,292 people) in 2015.
The sharpest decline was for Latinos, down to 30.8 percent (13,752) in 2016, from 43.3 percent (19,958) in 2015.
The poverty rate for children under the age of 18 was 44.7 percent in 2016, up from 43 percent in 2015.
With a poverty rate of 19.4 percent, the nine-county Memphis metro area returns to the #1 spot of the poorest large metro areas (population over 1 million) in the nation.
Memphis last held this dubious distinction in 2014, before swapping with Tucson, Arizona, in 2015. The #2 spot is again held by Tucson, where the metro area poverty rate was 18.4 percent in 2016.
Find out what a living wage is where you live.
Data analysis contributed by Cardell Orrin, Memphis City Director of Stand for Children, and a supporter of MLK50.
This report is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit reporting project on economic justice in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today.