Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Census Bureau Releases New Data on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the US

Today, the Census Bureau released new data on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States. This data is derived from information collected in the 2010 and earlier Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC).

Here are some of the key findings:
  • Median Household Income-The median household income in 2009 was $49, 777, not statistically different from the 2008 median in real terms.
  • Number and Percent of People in Poverty- The number of people living in poverty in 2009 was 43.6 million, up from 39.8 million in 2008.  While the poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008-the second statistically significant increase in the poverty rate since 2004.
  • Health Insurance Coverage- The number of people with health insurance coverage rose from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009.
  • Number and Percent of Children in Poverty-The number of children in poverty rose from 14.1 million to 15.5 million in 2009 and the child poverty rate increased from 19 percent to nearly 21 percent.
  • Number and Percent of Families in Poverty- In 2008, the number of families in poverty were 8.8 million and the percent of families in poverty were 11.1 percent, up from 10.3 percent and 8.1 million in 2008.
The Recovery Act, which provided increased funding for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) and Unemployment Insurance, has been recognized by the Census Bureau and others as a crucial support for children and families in 2009. Much of the Recovery Act assistance, however,  is not reflected in the official poverty measure. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2008, unemployment benefits kept 900,000 Americans out of poverty while in 2009, unemployment benefits kept 3.3 million Americans out of poverty. In addition, SNAP lifted 3.6 million people (including 1.7 million kids) out of poverty last year. Social Security kept the incomes of 14 million elderly Americans above the poverty line in 2009. By significantly expanding these programs, the Recovery Act may have helped to mitigate the rise in poverty.

Communities should keep in mind that the current data only reflects the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is national-level only. At the end of the month, the Census Bureau will release poverty estimates from the American Community Survey that will cover the nation, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district and all counties, places and metropolitan areas with populations of 65,000 or more.
View the full report here.  

Other Resources: 
2009 Poverty Numbers,

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