Official U.S. Poverty Rate Increases to 15.1%, More Than 46 Million Living in Poverty

By LIFT on September 13, 2011

Categories: News


From U.S. Census Bureau’s latest report: Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that in 2010, median household income declined, the poverty rate increased and the percentage without health insurance coverage was not statistically different from the previous year.

Real median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median.

The nation’s official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ─ the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate.  There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ─ the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.

 

 

The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 49.0 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010, while the percentage without coverage −16.3 percent – was not statistically different from the rate in 2009.

This information covers the first full calendar year after the December 2007-June 2009 recession. See section on the historical impact of recessions.

To read the full report, go to: U.S. Census Bureau’s latest report: Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.  LIFT has excerpted several key takeaways from the report on poverty, income gains/decreases, demographics information, and health insurance coverage below. For in-depth analysis and additional information, download the press kit from the U.S. Census Bureau found in its newsroom, and tune in to the webinar on September 14 at 11am and 2pm EDT.

Poverty

  • The poverty rate in 2010 was the highest since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points.
  • In 2010, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 11.7 percent and 9.2 million, respectively, up from 11.1 percent and 8.8 million in 2009.
  • The poverty rate and the number in poverty increased for both married-couple families (6.2 percent and 3.6 million in 2010 from 5.8 percent and 3.4 million in 2009) and female-householder-with-no-husband-present families (31.6 percent and 4.7 million in 2010 from 29.9 percent and 4.4 million in 2009).  For families with a male householder  no wife present, the poverty rate and the number in poverty were not statistically different from 2009 (15.8 percent and 880,000 in 2010).

Doubled-Up Households

  • Doubled-up households are defined as households that include at least one “additional” adult: a person 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder, spouse or cohabiting partner of the householder. In spring 2007, prior to the recession, doubled-up households totaled 19.7 million. By spring 2011, the number of doubled-up households had increased by 2.0 million to 21.8 million and the percent rose by 1.3 percentage points from 17.0 percent to 18.3 percent.
  • In spring 2011, 5.9 million young adults age 25-34 (14.2 percent) resided in their parents’ household, compared with 4.7 million (11.8 percent) before the recession, an increase of 2.4 percentage points.
  • It is difficult to precisely assess the impact of doubling up on overall poverty rates. Young adults age 25-34, living with their parents, had an official poverty rate of 8.4 percent, but if their poverty status were determined using their own income, 45.3 percent had an income below the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65.

Age

  • The poverty rate increased for children younger than 18 (from 20.7 percent in 2009 to 22.0 percent in 2010) and people 18 to 64 (from 12.9 percent in 2009 to 13.7 percent in 2010), while it was not statistically different for people 65 and older (9.0 percent).
  • Similar to the patterns observed for the poverty rate in 2010, the number of people in poverty increased for children younger than 18 (15.5 million in 2009 to 16.4 million in 2010) and people 18 to 64 (24.7 million in 2009 to 26.3 million in 2010) and was not statistically different for people 65 and older (3.5 million).

The U.S. Census Bureau listed several key points on the impacts of recessions on poverty data.

Historical Impact of Recessions

Since 2010 represents the first full calendar year after the recession that ended in June 2009, one can compare changes in income, poverty and health insurance coverage between 2009 and 2010 with changes during the first year after the end of other recessions:

  • Median household income declined the first full year following the December 2007 to June 2009 recession, as well as in the first full year following three other recessions (March 2001 to November 2001, January 1980 to July 1980 and December 1969 to November 1970). However, household income increased the first full year following the November 1973 to March 1975 recession, and the changes following the July 1990 to March 1991 and July 1981 to November 1982 recessions were not statistically significant.
  • The poverty rate and the number of people in poverty increased in the first calendar year following the end of the last three recessions. For the recessions that ended in 1961 and 1975, the poverty rate decreased in the next full calendar year.
  • After the most recent recession, there was no significant difference in the uninsured rate during the first full year after the recession. However, in the year following the recessions that ended in 1991 and 2001, the uninsured rate increased.

Also, the 2010 poverty rate for Blacks and Hispanics was approximately 27 percent, more than double the 2010 poverty rate for whites and non-Hispanics.

The U.S. Census Bureau also reported that the first estimates using the supplemental poverty measure in October 2011.  More details below:

Supplemental Poverty Measure

The Census Bureau’s statistical experts, with assistance from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, the Economics and Statistics Administration and other appropriate agencies and outside experts, are now developing a Supplemental Poverty Measure. The Supplemental Poverty Measure, for which the Census Bureau expects to publish preliminary estimates in October 2011, will provide an additional measure of economic well-being. It will not replace the official poverty measure and will not be used to determine eligibility for government programs. See Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010 for more information.