The Great Recession officially ended more than five years ago. Data from various sources indicate that the recovery has actually taken hold, even in the labor market. And now the official poverty rate does so too.
The Census Bureau just reported that the overall poverty rate for the U.S. population ticked down for the first time since 2006 — from 15% in both 2011 and 2012 to 14.5% last year.
But like the other indicators, the new rate shows we’ve still got a long way to go — and that such prosperity as the recovery has generated is far from equally shared.
The new poverty rate translates into 45.3 million people poor enough to fall below the Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds. These are very low — an annual income of less than $18,770 for a single parent with two children, for example.
More than 19.8 million people — 6.3% — lived in what’s commonly referred to as deep (or extreme or severe) poverty, i.e., had incomes below half the threshold applicable to their family size and configuration.
As in the past, the child poverty rate was considerably higher than the overall rate — 19.9%, representing well over 14.6 million children or about one in three of all our country’s poor. And the senior poverty rate was considerably lower — 9.5%.
Approximately 6.5 million children — 8.8% lived in deep poverty. This was true for only 2.7% of seniors.
But we’ve reasons to expect that the Census Bureau’s report on its more complex Supplemental Poverty Measure will show markedly higher rates for seniors, as well as somewhat lower rates for children.
Other disparities generally mirror those we’ve seen before. For example:
- The black poverty rate was nearly triple the rate for non-Hispanic whites — 27.2%, as compared to 9.6%.
- The deep poverty rate for blacks was 12.2%, while only 4.3% of non-Hispanic whites were that poor.
- The poverty rate for Hispanics was 23.5% and their deep poverty rate 9.4%.
- Rates for Asians were 10.5% and 5.2% respectively.
Disparities among family types also replicate a familiar patterns. The percent of married couples who were officially poor was 5.8%, while the percent for single-woman families was 30.6%. Families headed by a single man were again in between — 15.9%. And there were, as usual, far fewer of them.
Like the overall rate, most of these breakout rates were lower than in 2012. Not, however, the poverty rate for blacks or the ever-so-much-lower deep poverty rates for non-Hispanic whites and married couples.
None of the rates was as low as in 2007 — the last year before the Census survey reflected the recession. And those rates were nothing to cheer about.