Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2013 Poverty Data: New Data from the U.S. Census on Poverty, Income, and Health Insurance

Earlier today, the U.S. Census Bureau released reports on the 2013 data on income, poverty and health insurance coverage. This year, the data showed promising improvements in the poverty rate. For the first time since 2006, the official poverty rate dropped to 14.5 percent (down from 15 percent in 2012). There was also a reduction in the child poverty rate, this is a significant change and the first time child poverty has been reduced in the past thirteen years. While huge disparities continue to exist for Black and Hispanic families, the rate of poverty experienced by Hispanics was reduced and income increased. The poverty rate for other racial and ethnic groups remained unchanged. The 2013 poverty rates among non-Hispanic Whites and Asians were 9.6 percent and 10.5 percent respectively, while the poverty rates for Blacks and Hispanics were 27.2 percent and 23.5 percent respectively.

Poverty and Income Data Highlights
  • Hispanics were the only group to experience a significant drop in their poverty rate down from 25.6 to 23.5 percent.
  • The poverty rate for children under 18 fell from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent- with 14.1 million children living in poverty.
  • The poverty rate for families fell to 11.2 percent from 11.8 percent.
  • The poverty rate for families with a female householder (no husband present) was 30.6 percent, while the poverty rate for families with a male householder (no wife present) was 15.9 percent.
  • The poverty rate for children in female-headed households was more than 5 times the rate for related children in married-couple families, 55.0 percent and 10.2 percent respectively.
  • The number of men and women working full time, year round with earnings increased by 1.8 million and 1.0 million respectively. The rate of fulltime year round workers went up from 71.1 percent to 72.7 percent for men and 59.4 percent up to 60.5 percent for women.
The Important Role of Public Policy in Supporting Children and Families. Refundable Tax Credits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program help families with basic needs and prevent some from living in worse circumstances than they would have otherwise. Their value is not calculated into the poverty rate. If it were, the number of people living in poverty would be reduced by 3 percent and 1.6 percent respectively. Social Security also has a significant impact on children and families reducing poverty by 8.5 percent.

Experts attribute the reduction in child poverty to the increase in full-time, year round workers, a number that increased by more than 1 million between 2012 and 2013. In order to support these families diverse, multi-generational, anti-poverty strategies are needed. These multi-generational approaches must be designed in a way that promotes economic stability for the entire family – including educational opportunities and work supports for parents and high quality early care and education opportunities for children, housing, transportation and tax credits, but also supports to build strong parent child relationships and prevent toxic stress.

The Need for a Focus on Equity. The poverty data released today indicate significant racial disparities. Black and Hispanic families have continued to have disproportionately higher poverty rates and lower incomes when compared to White families, which has been consistent for more than three decades. Child poverty rates fell for non-Hispanic whites, Asians and Hispanics between 2012 and 2013, but the poverty rates for Black children did not change during the same time period. White non-Hispanic children were responsible for about half of the reduction in the number of children in poverty. This inequity shows the need for innovative solutions and targeted public investments. Policy strategies should take into account the existence of disparate opportunities and outcomes—attention to equity creates solutions that best meet the needs of the entire community.

To read CSSP's Statement on the New Poverty Data and the Need for Multi-Generational Policy, click here.

For more strategies to Reduce child poverty read our related report or visit PolicyforResults.org.

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