Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

New Data Highlights Vast and Persistent Racial Inequities in Who Experiences Poverty in America

From the National Equity Atlas:

Already the majority of children under five years old in the United States are children of color. By the end of this decade, the majority of people under 18 years old will be of color, and by 2044, our nation will be majority people of color. This growing diversity is an asset, but only if everyone is able to access the opportunities they need to thrive. Poverty is a tremendous barrier to economic and social inclusion and new data added to the National Equity Atlas highlights the vast and persistent racial inequities in who experiences poverty in America.

On June 28, we added a poverty indicator to the Atlas, including breakdowns at three thresholds: 100 percent, 150 percent, and 200 percent of the federal poverty line. We also added an age breakdown to the new poverty indicator, in response to user requests for child poverty data, which allows you to look at poverty rates across different age groups including the population under 5 and 18 years old as well as those 18 to 24, 25 to 64, and 65 and over.

Why examine different levels of poverty? In 2012, the federal poverty level was less than $12,000 for a single person and roughly $23,000 for a family of four with two adults. Many believe that this is too low. The National Center for Children in Poverty argues, for example, that families need an income at least double the federal poverty level to meet basic needs. Another critique relates to the varying costs of living across communities. $23,000 will go much further in a lower-cost region like McAllen, TX compared with a high-cost one like San Francisco or Washington, DC. To understand the broader universe of families experiencing economic insecurity, this analysis focuses mainly on the population below 200 percent of poverty.

Read this report in its entirety at the National Equity Atlas