WASHINGTON - Ahead of the State of the Union Address, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) released a new county-by-county report highlighting the problem of income inequality in Pennsylvania. Casey discussed the data and called on Congress to focus on closing the income gap in the new year by raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance and investing in early education.

"Income inequality is a problem that impacts all facets of our state's economy, from middle class families to small businesses who depend on customers to thrive," Casey was quoted in a press release from his office. "I'm calling on Congress to take steps this year to address income inequality in the short and long term. Congress should move quickly to vote on an increase in the minimum wage while working on a plan to invest in early education so every child has a better shot at reaching their full potential."

Casey used the estimated number of people of all ages in poverty from 2012 in making his case.

Northumberland and Schuylkill counties are among four counties tied for 18th worst of the state's 67 counties at a 14.1 percent poverty rate for all residents. The highest poverty rate is Philadelphia County at 26.2 percent, followed by Clarion County at 17.5.

Other counties near Northumberland and their rates are Columbia, 12.9; Luzerne, 15.6; Montour, 9.6; Snyder, 12.2, and Union, 12.1.