Special Report

The Poverty Rate The Year You Were Born

The nation’s poverty rose from 2019 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2020.” It was the first increase in five years, with the poverty rate rising from 10.5% to 11.4%. The report also indicates that 37.2 million people were living in poverty in 2020, nearly 3.3 million more than in 2019.

It surprised some that the poverty rate did not rise higher last year. But government programs to combat the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic helped. According to The New York Times, “The fact that poverty did not rise more during an enormous economic disruption reflects the equally enormous government response.”

The poverty rate has been below 13% most years since 1997. The exception is the period of The Great Recession. The figure moved to 15.1% in 2010, and then 15.1% in 2011 and 2012. Looking further back, poverty was even higher than that in the early 1960s, at around 20%. Looking at the more current situation nationwide, here is the metro with the highest poverty rate in every state.

Poverty has a wide range of effects on America’s poor. People living in poverty are less likely to be healthy than the rest of the population. They are less likely to be well educated. They are less likely to have access to healthy food. To be poor usually also means to stay poor, according to several studies and research from the OECD. While the ability of people to climb out of poverty is not exactly a myth, it is rare. For people living in extreme poverty it’s even harder. Here is the city hit hardest by extreme poverty in every state.

To find the poverty rate the year you were born, 24/7 Wall St. looked at the percentage of Americans who lived below the poverty line from 1959 until 2020. The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated for inflation using the consumer price index. The official poverty definition uses money income before taxes and does not include capital gains or noncash benefits, such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps.

Click here to see the poverty rate the year you were born