U.S. Poverty Rate Down Significantly

Today the Census Bureau reported that the poverty rate in the U.S. is now 12.3% which is a 12.6% decline down from 12.6%.

The last significant decline in the poverty rate came in 2000, during the Clinton administration, when it went from 11.9 percent to 11.3 percent.

The poverty rate increased every year for the next four years, peaking at 12.7 percent in 2004. It was 12.6 percent in 2005, but Census officials said that change was statistically insignificant.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics, ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Triumph says:

    The numbers get a bit more interesting when you look at the age breakdowns.

    The real significant decline was in the over-65 set. For the working stiffs (18-64) the poverty level was higher and the median income lower than in 2001.

    The census also reported today an increase of 2.2 million uninsured people over the last year.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Something that’s missing from the linked article that would be pretty helpful in understanding it is a description of how the official poverty rate is calculated. While, theoretically, it’s an absolute measure practically speaking it ain’t necessarily so because the definition of what constitutes the necessities of living for the purposes of the calculation have changed over time.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I wonder what proportion of those 18-64 at or below the poverty level are immigrants.

  4. Tim Worstall says:

    More importantly Dave, is that what is being measured is the number in poverty “before” any help they receive from the Govt. It does not include the effects of the EITC, of housing, of food stamps: it only includes direct cash transfers.

    It’s a terrible measure actually, one that no other OECD country uses.

  5. madmatt says:

    See what 6 years of republican control gets you…more poor and uninsured people…I see a new bumber sticker!

  6. spencer says:

    Steve I’m sure that someone with your background is well aware that when the Census Bureau uses the term statistically insignificant they are using it in its exact mathematical meaning.

    Do you really believe it is being completely honest to pretend not to know this?

  7. Hal says:

    So let me get this straight, Verdon’s post title says U.S. Poverty Rate Down Significantly, but he has to correct his post to note that it only fell by a statistically insignificant 0.3% and doesn’t even update the post title?

    Yes, what a fine economist you make Steve.