Poverty and Income
The poverty rate remained unchanged at a high 15.0 percent in 2012, the third full year of an economic recovery that officially began in June 2009. One key reason why poverty has remained virtually frozen despite continued economic growth is the weakening of unemployment insurance (UI). If UI had not become less effective at reducing poverty among unemployed workers between 2010 and 2012, the poverty rate would have fallen over that period to 14.7 percent, CBPP calculations show. UI will become still less effective if Congress fails to extend emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed, which expire at the end of December.
Census Data Show Poverty and Inequality Remained High in 2012 and Median Income Was Stagnant, But Fewer Americans Were Uninsured
The economic recovery has yet to produce significant gains for Americans in the bottom and middle of the economic scale, Census Bureau data released this week show. The poverty rate remained unchanged at a high 15.0 percent in 2012 and median household income remained unchanged at $51,017, some $4,600 below its 2007 level. Income inequality remained at record high levels by a number of measures.
- Official Poverty Measure Masks Gains Made Over Last 50 Years
- Income Inequality Remains at Record High, New Census Figures Show
Various Supports for Low-Income Families Reduce Poverty and Have Long-Term Positive Effects On Families and Children
"Since the Great Depression, the United States has developed a set of supports to help low-income families, seniors, children, and people with disabilities make ends meet and obtain health care. Extensive research indicates that these supports lift millions of Americans out of poverty, help 'make work pay' by supplementing low wages, and enable millions of Americans to receive health care who otherwise could not afford it. "
The poverty guideline, the federal government’s estimate of a minimum income used in determining eligibility for many federal programs, is $23,550 for a family of four in 2013, $11,490 for a single individual, and $4,020 for each individual person. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, though many states (and some municipalities) have set their own minimum wages at a higher level.
The Center analyzes major economic developments affecting low- and moderate-income Americans, including trends in poverty, income inequality, and the working poor. In addition, we analyze the asset rules in various public benefit programs that can discourage low-income people from building modest savings and highlight potential reforms.
Revised December 5, 2013
Revised October 28, 2013
October 25, 2013
Statement from Robert Greenstein, President, on the Agreement to Reopen the Government and Avert Default
October 16, 2013
October 7, 2013
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