New poverty data matter to our program

Colorful number blocksOn Sept. 12, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual household income report, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011. Each year, child support professionals eagerly anticipate this release as we develop our priorities and projects that will best serve families. The report is based on a yearly Census survey and represents the official federal poverty numbers. These numbers reflect money income only and do not reflect in-kind public assistance or tax credits. (You can see a summary brief from the HHS Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation.

First the good news: the Census Bureau data indicate that the number and rate of children living in poverty has leveled off. There were 16.1 million children under 18 years old living in poverty in 2011, not a significant change from 2010. The child poverty rate was 21.9 percent in 2011, also not a significant change. In 2011, the poverty threshold for a family of one adult and two children was $18,123, and for one adult $11,702.

In addition, the proportion of children living in deep poverty (those with income below one-half of the federal poverty threshold) has declined slightly. In 2011, 7.3 million children, or 9.8 percent, were living in deep poverty, compared to 9.9 percent in 2010. Children in deep poverty represented 45 percent of all children in poverty.

The number and percentage of children without health coverage remained level in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, 7 million children, or 9.4 percent, did not have health insurance. Children 12 to 17 had a higher uninsured rate than those under 12. Children in poverty were more likely to be uninsured (13.8 percent) than all children, and Hispanic children were most likely to be uninsured (15.1 percent).

The number of men working full-time, year-round with earnings increased by 1.7 million between 2010 and 2011; however, this was 5 million less than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession. The number of women working full-time, year-round increased by .5 million, but was 1.9 million less than in 2007. In addition, the percent of people without health insurance coverage declined from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 15.7 in 2011.

Although the economy is recovering, the big picture is that the child poverty rate rose in seven of the last 10 years. Children living in female-headed families with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6 percent in 2011, over 4 times the rate of children in married-couple families (10.9 percent). The child poverty rate in 2011 was 5.7 percentage points higher than in 2000, when the child poverty rate was 16.2 percent. And the proportion of children living in deep poverty was 3.1 points higher in 2011 than the 6.7 percent rate in 2000. Among children:

  • The poverty rate for African-American children was 37.4 percent in 2011. This is up 7.2 points from 30.2 percent in 2001.
  • The poverty rate for Hispanic children was 34.1 percent in 2011, up 7.2 points from the 2006 low of 26.9 percent. 
  • The poverty rate for White (non-Hispanic) children was 12.5 percent in 2011, up 3.4 points from 9.1 percent in 2000. 

The real median income for all households was 8.1 percent lower in 2011 than in 2007 and 8.9 percent lower than the median household income peak in 1999. The real median earnings of both men and women working full-time, year-round declined 2.5 percent between 2010 and 2011. The median earnings of women who worked full-time, year-round ($37,118) was 77 percent of that for men working full-time, year-round ($48,202)—compared to just under 59 percent in 1975. 

Other Census Bureau data indicate that about 28 percent of the U. S. population had at least one spell of poverty lasting two or more months, but that chronic poverty was relatively uncommon, with 4.8 percent of the population living in poverty for all 24 months.

I look forward to hearing about ways your agency is putting the data to work.

 

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One Response to New poverty data matter to our program

  1. Gwendolyn K. says:

    How are these racial groups accurate? How about white or hispanic children with white custodial parents?? Are they in a different group than african american custodial parents with bi-racial or half Hispanic children? There are so many interracial families nowadays, I like to know if the Head of Household determines the racial or ethnic group in the stats or the children?

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