Official U.S. Household Income Rises, But Nearly 5 Million Families Still Living in Poverty

By LIFT on September 14, 2018

Categories: News


This week the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the poverty rate dipped to 12.3 percent from 12.7 percent in 2016, and the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which includes more forms of income, saw a more modest drop from 14 percent to 13.9 percent. Americans are also earning slightly more in household income for the third consecutive year; however, these gains are uneven with many workers experiencing stagnant or declining wages as costs for basic household necessities rise.

Further, the new poverty data paints a bleak picture for families with young children. As of 2017, the percentage of families with children under age six living in poverty remains alarmingly high at 19.2 percent. While children make up 22.6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 33.6 percent of the population living in poverty. Additionally, income inequality and higher rates of poverty continue to disproportionately affect families of color­­—the primary recipients of LIFT’s services. 

The data is clear: in spite of economic gains, too many Americans – nearly 40 million people who fall below the federal poverty line – are struggling to make ends meet. The parents who come through our doors each and every day are families who are working multiple jobs all while relying on vital government benefits. In fact, without the lifelines that are SNAP, TANF, EITC and social security, another 44 million Americans would live in poverty. And yet poverty is not even on the list of the 10 most-cited problems Americans would like the government to address.

The Administration and Congress must prioritize reducing poverty in America and discontinue their attacks on programs that lift families out of poverty. At LIFT, we know that our parents want what all parents want: a stable home for their family and a bright future for their children. LIFT parents dream of “having it all” but face near impossible hurdles of systems that push them down rather than provide them a hand up. Yet at LIFT, we also know that when we invest in human, social, and financial capital growth for families, we can achieve transformative change for children and communities. By helping parents achieve their goals, we are ensuring their children brighter futures.

With our sights set on the work still to be done, LIFT remains committed to providing the roughly 12.8 million U.S. children living in poverty – and their families – an equal playing field and a better chance at a fair future.

To read the full report, go to: United States Census Bureau Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2017 Report.