Clawing out of poverty

September 17, 2014

Finally, the U.S. poverty rate is moving in the right direction.

For the first time since 2006, the poverty rate declined last year — to 14.5 percent from 15 percent in 2012 — according to a new report out by the Census Bureau. “Last year’s decrease appeared driven by fewer people relying on part-time work, as the survey found an additional 2.8 million Americans were working full-time during the year,” writes Jason Lange.

While that’s good news, the report also says that median household income increased by less than $200, to $51,939 — a gain that isn’t deemed statistically significant. Americans still earn about $5,000 less at the median than they did in 2007. Nor is the new rate reason for unequivocal celebration: Lange notes that the poverty rate was still 2 percentage points higher than it was seven years earlier.

Here’s how the poverty rate, as well as the absolute number of of people in poverty, have changed in the last half century:



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