Today’s post comes from Alliance research associate Pete Witte; he summarizes a new poverty report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau released the report Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Poverty, 2004—2006. The report examines incidence and duration of poverty among a sample of U.S. residents and households across a three year (36 month) period.
The report found that 29 percent of the U.S. population experienced episodic poverty (poverty for at least 2 months during the survey period) and 3 percent experienced chronic poverty (poverty for the entire 36 month survey period). Of the 33 million people experiencing poverty at the beginning of the survey period, 23 percent remained in poverty for the 36 months.
The report, which examines poverty through data collected on cash and non-cash income as part of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), also tracks people as they leave or enter into poverty. Of the 11.7 million people who were in poverty in the beginning of the survey but who exited by the end of the survey, more than half continued to have income less than 150 percent of their poverty threshold.
Here are some highlights from the report:
- 33 million people were in poverty in January/February 2004 and 23 percent remained in poverty throughout the 36 month survey period.
- 11.7 million, or 42 percent, who were poor in the 2004 calendar year were not in poverty in 2006.
- 10 million who were not in poverty (4 percent) in 2004 slipped into poverty by 2006.
- 4.5 months was the median length of a poverty spell; half of such spells ended within four months while about 12 percent lasted more than 24 months.
- More than half of those who did exit poverty continued to have income that was not significantly above the poverty level (less than 150 percent of the poverty threshold).
- Children younger than 18 tended to stay poor longer than working-age adults (ages 18-64): the median length of their poverty spells was 5.2 months, while for those 18 to 64, the median was 4.2 months.
- Older adults (65 and older) had the longest stays in poverty of any age group: a median spell of 6.7 months.
- People in female-led families had longer median poverty spells than those in married-couple families.
- Non-Hispanic Whites had a lower episodic poverty rate (22.6 percent) and a shorter median poverty spell length (4.0 months) than Hispanics and Blacks.
- Blacks had a higher chronic poverty rate (8.4 percent) than Hispanics (4.5 percent) and non-Hispanic Whites (1.4 percent).
To access the full report, visit the website.