The U.S. Census Bureau just released the Income and Poverty and Health Insurance reports. These reports are important because income and poverty are risk factors for homelessness, and may provide indicators for economic stability. Although the economic crisis seems to have passed, recovery from this crisis has been slower for those living in poverty.
In 2013, the nation’s official poverty rate was 14.5%, a decrease from 15.0% in 2012. This was the first slight decrease since 2006. In addition, the poverty rate for children under 18 declined for the first time since 2000. However, there was no statistically significant change in the overall number of poor people or in the income level of the typical American household. In 2013, 45.3 million people were living at or below poverty. State and local data will be released on Thursday, September 18.
Census officials said that while income inequality did not change in a statistically significant way from 2012 to 2013, inequality has increased substantially in the last two decades. The most common measure of household income inequality, known as the Gini index, has increased by 4.9% since 1993.
The poverty findings above are from the Current Population Survey (CPS). It is reliable for national estimates. Because its sample size is smaller, the Census Bureau strongly recommends using the American Community Survey findings for states and localities. If you are directly comparing your state to national data, you should compare the ACS national figure to your state’s ACS figure.