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[IWS] CRS: POVERTY IN THE UNITED STATES: 2013 [29 January 2015]

IWS Documented News Service

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Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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This service is supported, in part, by donations. Please consider making a donation by following the instructions at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/iws/news-bureau/support.html

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Poverty in the United States: 2013

Thomas Gabe,Specialist in Social Policy

January 29, 2015

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33069.pdf

[full-text, 81 pages]

 

Summary

In 2013, 45.3 million people were counted as poor in the United States under the official poverty

measure—a number statistically unchanged from the 46.5 million people estimated as poor in

2012. The poverty rate, or percent of the population considered poor under the official definition,

was reported at 14.5% in 2013, a statistically significant drop from the estimated 15.0% in 2012.

Poverty in the United States increased markedly over the 2007-2010 period, in tandem with the

economic recession (officially marked as running from December 2007 to June 2009), and

remained unchanged at a post-recession high for three years (15.1% in 2010, and 15.0% in both

2011 and 2012). The 2013 poverty rate of 14.5% remains above a 2006 pre-recession low of

12.3%, and well above an historic low rate of 11.3% attained in 2000 (a rate statistically tied with

a previous low of 11.1% in 1973).

The incidence of poverty varies widely across the population according to age, education, labor

force attachment, family living arrangements, and area of residence, among other factors. Under

the official poverty definition, an average family of four was considered poor in 2013 if its pretax

cash income for the year was below $23,834.

 

The measure of poverty currently in use was developed some 50 years ago, and was adopted as

the “official” U.S. statistical measure of poverty in 1969. Except for minor technical changes, and

adjustments for price changes in the economy, the “poverty line” (i.e., the income thresholds by

which families or individuals with incomes that fall below are deemed to be poor) is the same as

that developed nearly a half century ago, reflecting a notion of economic need based on living

standards that prevailed in the mid-1950s.

 

Moreover, poverty as it is currently measured only counts families’ and individuals’ pre-tax

money income against the poverty line in determining whether or not they are poor. In-kind

benefits, such as benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly

named the Food Stamp program) and housing assistance, are not accounted for under the

“official” poverty definition, nor are the effects of taxes or tax credits, such as the Earned Income

Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Tax Credit (CTC). In this sense, the “official” measure fails to capture

the effects of a variety of programs and policies specifically designed to address income poverty.

 

A congressionally commissioned study conducted by a National Academy of Sciences (NAS)

panel of experts recommended, some 20 years ago, that a new U.S. poverty measure be

developed, offering a number of specific recommendations. The Census Bureau, in partnership

with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), has developed a Supplemental Poverty Measure

(SPM) designed to implement many of the NAS panel recommendations. The SPM is to be

considered a “research” measure, to supplement the “official” poverty measure. Guided by new

research, the Census Bureau and BLS intend to improve the SPM over time. The “official”

statistical poverty measure will continue to be used by programs that use it as the basis for

allocating funds under formula and matching grant programs. The Department of Health and

Human Services (HHS) will continue to issue poverty income guidelines derived from “official”

Census Bureau poverty thresholds. HHS poverty guidelines are used in determining individual

and family income eligibility under a number of federal and state programs. Estimates from the

SPM differ from the “official” poverty measure and are presented in a final section of this report.

 

Contents

Trends in Poverty ............................................................................................................................. 1

The U.S. “Official” Definition of Poverty ....................................................................................... 2

Poverty among Selected Groups ...................................................................................................... 6

Racial and Ethnic Minorities ..................................................................................................... 6

Nativity and Citizenship Status ................................................................................................. 6

Children ..................................................................................................................................... 6

Adults with Low Education, Unemployment, or Disability ...................................................... 8

The Aged ................................................................................................................................... 9

Receipt of Need-Tested Assistance Among the Poor ....................................................................... 9

The Geography of Poverty ............................................................................................................... 9

Poverty in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas, Center Cities, and Suburbs ................. 10

Poverty by Region ................................................................................................................... 10

State Poverty Rates .................................................................................................................. 10

Change in State Poverty Rates: 2002-2013 ............................................................................. 14

Poverty Rates by Metropolitan Area ....................................................................................... 20

Congressional District Poverty Estimates ............................................................................... 22

“Neighborhood” Poverty—Poverty Areas and Areas of Concentrated and Extreme

Poverty ................................................................................................................................. 23

The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure .............................................................................. 25

Poverty Thresholds .................................................................................................................. 29

SPM Poverty Thresholds ................................................................................................... 29

Resources and Expenses Included in the SPM ........................................................................ 30

Poverty Estimates Under the Research SPM Compared to the “Official” Measure ................ 31

Poverty by Age .................................................................................................................. 31

Poverty by Type of Economic Unit ................................................................................... 32

Poverty by Region ............................................................................................................. 34

Poverty by Residence ........................................................................................................ 35

Poverty by State ................................................................................................................ 36

Marginal Effects of Counting Specified Resources and Expenses on Poverty

under the SPM ................................................................................................................ 41

Distribution of the Population by Ratio of Income/Resources Relative to Poverty .......... 42

Discussion................................................................................................................................ 44

 

Figures

Figure 1. Trend in Poverty Rate and Number of Poor Persons: 1959-2013, and Unemployment Rate from January 1959 through August 2014 ................................................... 4

Figure 2. U.S. Poverty Rates by Age Group, 1959-2013 ................................................................. 5

Figure 3. Child Poverty Rates by Family Living Arrangement, Race and Hispanic Origin, 2013 .............................................................................................................................................. 7

Figure 4. Composition of Children, by Family Type, Race and Hispanic Origin, 2013 .................. 8

Figure 5. Percentage of People in Poverty in the Past 12 Months by State and Puerto Rico: 2013 ....................................................................................................... 11

Figure 6. Poverty Rates for the 50 States and the District of Columbia: 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) Data ................................................................................................. 13

Figure 7. Distribution of Poor People by Race and Hispanic Origin, by Level of Neighborhood (Census Tract) Poverty, 2009-2013 .................................................................... 24

Figure 8. Poverty Thresholds Under the “Official” Measure and the Research Supplemental Poverty Measure for Units with Two Adults and Two Children: 2013 ................ 30

Figure 9. Poverty Rates Under the “Official”* and Research Supplemental Poverty Measures, by Age: 2013 ............................................................................................................. 32

Figure 10. Poverty Rates Under the “Official”* and Research Supplemental Poverty Measures, by Type of Economic Unit: 2013 .............................................................................. 34

Figure 11. Poverty Rates Under the “Official”* and Research Supplemental Poverty Measures, by Region: 2013 ........................................................................................................ 35

Figure 12. Poverty Rates Under the “Official”* and Research Supplemental Poverty Measures, by Residence: 2013 ................................................................................................... 36

Figure 13. Difference in Poverty Rates by State Using the “Official”* Measure and the SPM: Three-Year Average 2011-2013 ........................................................................................ 37

Figure 14. Poverty Rates by State Using the “Official”* Measure and the SPM: ThreeYear Average 2010-2013............................................................................................................. 39

Figure 15. Poverty Rates by State Using the “Official”* Measure and the SPM: ThreeYear Average 2010-2013.................................................... 40

Figure 16. Percentage Point Change in Poverty Rates Attributable to Selected Income and Expenditure Elements Under the Research Supplemental Poverty Measure, by AgeGroup: 2013 ......................... 42

Figure 17. Distribution of the Population by Income/Resources to Poverty Ratios Under the “Official”* and Research Supplemental Poverty Measures, by Age Group: 2013 ............... 43

 

Tables

Table 1. Poverty Rates for the 50 States and the District of Columbia, 2002 to 2013 Estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS) .......................................................... 16

Table 2. Large Metropolitan Areas Among Those with the Lowest Poverty Rates: 2013 ............. 20

Table 3. Large Metropolitan Areas Among Those with the Highest Poverty Rates: 2013 ............ 21

Table 4. Smaller Metropolitan Areas Among Those with the Lowest Poverty Rates: 2013 .......... 21

Table 5. Smaller Metropolitan Areas Among Those with the Highest Poverty Rates: 2013 ......... 22

Table 6. Poverty Measure Concepts Under “Official” and Supplemental Measures ..................... 26

Table A-1. Poverty Rates (Percent Poor) for Selected Groups, 1959-2013 ................................... 45

Table B-1. Metropolitan Area Poverty: 2013 ................................................................................. 47

Table C-1. Poverty by Congressional District: 2013 ..................................................................... 60

 

Appendixes

Appendix A. U.S. Poverty Statistics: 1959-2013 ........................................................................... 45

Appendix B. Metropolitan Area Poverty Estimates ....................................................................... 47

Appendix C. Poverty Estimates by Congressional District ........................................................... 60

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 76

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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