Wednesday, Sep 13, 2017

Census Bureau Data Show Poverty Reduction, but More Progress is Needed
September 13, 2017- According to the latest statistics released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people living in poverty decreased to 12.7%, an 0.8 percentage points drop from 13.5% in 2016.  The real median household income increased by 3.2% between 2015 and 2016, while the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased to 8.8%.
The statistics show that in 2016, 40.6 million Americans lived in poverty- a decrease of 2.5 million people from the previous year. These are positive signs.  However, more progress is needed.  
The statistics released yesterday come from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and are considered Part 1.  The Tuesday data tell the story at the federal and state level.
Poverty Data Release Part 2 will come tomorrow (Thursday) with the release of the American Community Survey (ACS) which will provide data that will tell a more localized story.  
Within Tuesday's report, it is important to note the continued and significant racial and gender gap in poverty in the US.  22 percent of African Americans (down from 24.1 percent in 2015) and 19.4 percent of Hispanic/Latinos (down from 21.4 percent in 2015) are poor, compared to 8.8 percent of non-Hispanic whites (whose poverty rate was 9.1 percent in 2015).  African American and Latino children make up about 43 percent of all children, but two-thirds of all poor children.  Their child poverty rates remain extremely high (30.8 percent of African American children are poor, as are 26.6 percent of Hispanic children).  
The poverty rate for women ages 18 to 64 was 13.4 percent, while the poverty rate for men ages 18 to 64 was 9.7 percent. The poverty rate for women age 65 and older was 10.6 percent, while the poverty rate for men age 65 and older was 7.6 percent.   
It is also important to note that 19.7% of children under the age of six are living in poverty, with 18% of all children under 18. 
As Community Action Partnership CEO Denise Harlow said: "The challenge is to build on this positive momentum and build an economy that works for all. It is encouraging to see the decrease in poverty, but with more than 40 million of our fellow citizens living in poverty and 1 in 5 children, we need to keep moving the needle and investing in families. In addition, the racial and gender gap is unacceptable and needs to be addressed."
The data released Tuesday through the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) show the real impact of public policies on lifting families from poverty. The Center for the Study of Social Policy stated: "The number of people living in poverty would have been far greater had it not been for these critically important social programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and housing assistance.  Collectively, these policies led to a reduction of people living in poverty... Without access to Refundable Tax Credits, for example, an additional 8.2 million people would be living in poverty."
For local CAAs, Thursday's release of the ACS data will be critical to review and incorporate into Community Needs Assessments and planning efforts.  Keep an eye out for an eNews later this week..
The Community Action Network is committed to doing all it can to fight poverty in communities across the country. We are a network comprised of more than 1,000 agencies, and we are focused on "helping communities and changing lives," making America a better place to live for "all." Community Action will continue to strive each and every day to address the causes and conditions of poverty.
For more information, please contact Communications Lead Dyan Lee at

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