So, the big headline of the U.S. government’s latest poverty report didn’t offer much in the way of news: the official U.S. poverty rate declined to 14.5% last year, from 15% in 2012, but the 45.3 million people living at or below the poverty line “did not represent a statistically significant change.”
That’s according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which released its 2013 report on income and poverty on Tuesday. The report just confirms that poverty in the U.S. remains much more prevalent than it was before the country sunk into its most recent recession six years ago, but the Census Bureau also reveals some other interesting numbers that go a little deeper than the overall poverty rate.
Here are a few takeaways from the Census Bureau’s report:
- Despite little or no significant change to the number of Americans living at or below the poverty line for the third straight year, the 0.5% decline in the overall poverty rate did represent the first decline of any kind in seven years. The poverty rate in 2007, the year before the U.S. entered a recession, was 12.5%. (As a note, the Census Bureau’s average annual income threshold for an individual to be considered as living in poverty is $11,888, and it is $23,834 for a family of four.)
- The poverty rate for children under the age of 18 declined for the first time since 2000, falling from 21.8% in 2012 to 19.9% last year. The number of families living in poverty declined from 9.5 million in 2012 to 9.1 million last year, dropping the poverty rate for families from 11.8% to 11.2%.
- The Census Bureau’s poverty statistics do not take into account certain government benefits programs, including food stamps, public housing and Medicaid. If such benefits were taken into account, the Census Bureau says, there would be nearly 3.7 million fewer people defined as being in poverty in 2013.
- Median household income ticked upward ever so slightly to $51,939 in 2013, up from $51,759 the previous year, but the current figure is still 8% lower than the median household income in 2007, the last year before the most recent recession. Last year also marked the second consecutive year with no significant change to median household income in the U.S., following two years (2010 and 2011) of annual declines.
- Hispanic households saw the highest increase in median household income, from $39,572 in 2012 to $40,963 last year — a 3.5% rise. In terms of race, the highest median income went to Asian households, though their median household income of $67,065 in 2013 represented a 3.7% decline from the previous year.