New Census data shows poverty rate holds steady; young adults benefit from health reform

The number of Americans living in poverty remained unchanged in 2011, following three straight years of increases, according to new data from the Census Bureau released today.  The current poverty rate is still at the highest level since 1993, with 46.2 million people (or 15 percent of Americans) living below the poverty line.  The poverty rate among Whites stood at 12.8 percent, while the rates for African-Americans (27.6 percent) and Hispanics (25.3 percent) were roughly twice as high.

The Census definition of poverty is an individual making less than $11,702 a year, scaling upward as more people are added to a family.  For example, a family of four with two children would fall below the poverty line with a household income of less than $22,811.

The data also shows that the number of people with health insurance climbed in 2011 to 84.3 percent, up from 83 percent in 2010. That marks the first time in a decade that the percentage of people covered by private health insurance did not fall.  The largest increase in coverage occurred among young adults, a group benefiting from an Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision allowing adult children up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ private insurance plans.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Median household income in the United States fell again in 2011, dropping 1.5 percent to $50,054.  Median household income has fallen 8.1 percent overall since 2007, the year before the Great Recession.  While incomes fell, income inequality grew.  Income inequality increased by 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2011; this is the first time inequality has shown an annual increase since 1993.

On September 20, the Census Bureau will release more definitive 2011 state-level data as part of the American Community Survey (ACS).  While the Current Population Survey (CPS) does also include some state-level data, it’s preliminary and less reliable than the upcoming ACS release.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.