The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that in 2013, the poverty rate declined from the previous year for the first time since 2006, while there was no statistically significant change in either the number of people living in poverty or real median household income. In addition, the poverty rate for children under 18 declined from the previous year for the first time since 2000. The following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2014 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.
The nation’s official poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, down from 15.0 percent in 2012. The 45.3 million people living at or below the poverty line in 2013, for the third consecutive year, did not represent a statistically significant change from the previous year’s estimate.
Median household income in the United States in 2013 was $51,939; the change in real terms from the 2012 median of $51,759 was not statistically significant. This is the second consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive annual declines.Robert Doar writes at AEI:
The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire 2013 calendar year was 13.4 percent; this amounted to 42.0 million people.
These findings are contained in two reports: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013 and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013.
Over five years since the end of the recession, it would seem reasonable to expect that poverty would have dropped further from the peak hit in 2010. At 14.5% in 2013, the poverty rate has dropped from the peak of 15.1% hit in 2010. That’s progress. But it is still very far from a low of 11.3% in 2000.
Back then—with a strong economy and aggressive work-first welfare policies—we had experienced seven straight years of reductions in the poverty rate. African American child poverty reached an all-time low in 2001 also due to the winning combination of strong economic growth, work requirements in welfare, and well-targeted work supports that made work pay for those working at low wages.
We have gotten away from all three. Our economy remains stalled. Work requirements effectively do not exist in many of our welfare programs: food stamp benefits intended to support low-wage work seem to be replacing it instead, with 10 million non-elderly and non-disabled SNAP recipients not reporting any earnings. The work disincentives embedded in the Affordable Care Act are not helping either.