2010 Census Indicates Poverty on the Rise

by on December 10th, 2014
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One in six Americans is living in poverty, according to a Census Bureau report released this week. As staggering as that figure is, it’s not the only sobering news to emerge from the 2010 Census. Here are a few other key facts to ponder.

* Americans living under the poverty level numbered 46.2 million in 2010. The poverty level is defined as $11,139 for a single person and $22,314 for a family of four. It’s interesting to note that this is not the worst poverty level in American history. It was higher in 1993, in fact, and was significantly higher in 1959, “the first year for which poverty estimates are available,” according to a Census Bureau press release.

* Over 25 percent of children under 6 live in poverty.

* In 2010 median household income was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from 2009. This decrease was absorbed by white and black households exclusively. Asian and Hispanic median income remained static.

* Men lost employment at a higher rate than women over the last four years. Since 2007, the number of men working full time decreased by 6.6 million, while that figure was only 2.8 million for women. From 2009-2010 the difference disappeared, indicating that the trend is over.

* Northeasterners fared better than the rest of the country. Their median income levels remained static, while all other areas experienced a decline.

* The number of Americans without health insurance increased by almost a million, although the percentage (16.3) remained static.

The report also includes information from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). SIPP captures statistics on labor, income and health insurance coverage monthly. Following is longitudinal data from SIPP for the period 2004-2007.

* Over 31 percent of the population experienced a “spell” of poverty during this time (i.e. their income fell below the poverty level for at least two months).

* Chronic poverty, a measure of the number of people who lived below the poverty line for the entire four years, was unremarkable. About 2.2 percent of the population is chronically poor.

This confirms what many have witnessed; most people are able to pull themselves out of poverty utilizing the safety nets our government provides. It’s that kind of tenacity, the American spirit, that will help us survive economic hardship.

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