Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2001 . Economic Security Risk Factor 1. Poverty Rates

03/01/2001

Figure ECON 1.  Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Age: 1959-1999

 Figure ECON 1.  Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Age: 1959-1999

Source:  U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 1999,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-210 and data published online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.


  • The percentage of persons living in poverty has continued to decline since 1993, when the poverty rate for all persons was at a ten-year high of just over 15 percent.  In 1999, the overall poverty rate was just under 12 percent, the lowest level since 1979.
  • While the poverty rate for children has declined along with the overall rate in the past several years, children, particularly young children, continue to have higher poverty rates than the overall population.  For example, in 1999, the poverty rate for related children ages 0 to 5 was 18 percent, compared to 12 percent for the overall population.

  • The poverty rate for blacks declined nearly 10 percentage points between 1992 and 1999, from 33 percent to less than 24 percent, as shown in Table ECON 1.  The gap between black and white poverty rates was at an historic low of 14 percentage points; the gap has narrowed by a third since the early 1990s, when it exceeded 21 percentage points.  The poverty rate among Hispanics reached 23 percent in 1999, the lowest level since 1979. 

  • The poverty rate for the elderly (persons ages 65 and over) reached an historic low of less than 10 percent in 1999.  This was a lower poverty rate than the rate both for children under 18 (17 percent) and adults ages 18-64 (10 percent).

Table ECON 1. Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Race and Age: Selected Years


  Related Children All Persons  
Ages 0-5 Ages 6-17 Total Under 18 18 to 64 65 & over White Black Hispanic Origin
1959

N/A

N/A

22.4

27.3

17.0

35.2

18.1

55.1

N/A

1963

N/A

N/A

19.5

23.1

N/A

N/A

15.3

N/A

N/A

1966

N/A

N/A

14.7

17.6

10.5

28.5

11.3

41.8

N/A

1969

15.3

13.1

12.1

14.0

8.7

25.3

9.5

32.2

N/A

1973

15.7

13.6

11.1

14.4

8.3

16.3

8.4

31.4

21.9

1976 17.7

15.1

11.8

16.0

9.0

15.0

9.1

31.1

24.7

1979

17.9

15.1

11.7

16.4

8.9

15.2

9.0

31.0

21.8

1980

20.3

16.8

13.0

18.3

10.1

15.7

10.2

32.5

25.7

1981

22.0

18.4

14.0

20.0

11.1

15.3

11.1

34.2

26.5

1982

23.3

20.4

15.0

21.9

12.0

14.6

12.0

35.6

29.9

1983

24.6

20.4

15.2

22.3

12.4

13.8

12.1

35.7

28.0

1984

23.4

19.7

14.4

21.5

11.7

12.4

11.5

33.8

28.4

1985

22.6

18.8

14.0

20.7

11.3

12.6

11.4

31.3

29.0

1986

21.6

18.8

13.6

20.5

10.8

12.4

11.0

31.1

27.3

1987

22.3

18.9

13.4

20.3

10.6

12.5

10.4

32.4

28.0

1988

21.8

17.5

13.0

19.5

10.5

12.0

10.1

31.3

26.7

1989

21.9

17.4

12.8

19.6

10.2

11.4

10.0

30.7

26.2

1990

23.0

18.2

13.5

20.6

10.7

12.2

10.7

31.9

28.1

1991

24.0

19.5

14.2

21.8

11.4

12.4

11.3

32.7

28.7

1992

25.7

19.4

14.8

22.3

11.9

12.9

11.9

33.4

29.6

1993

25.6

20.0

15.1

22.7

12.4

12.2

12.2

33.1

30.6

1994

24.5

19.5

14.5

21.8

11.9

11.7

11.7

30.6

30.7

1995

23.7

18.3

13.8

20.8

11.4

10.5

11.2

29.3

30.3

1996

22.7

18.3

13.7

20.5

11.4

10.8

11.2

28.4

29.4

1997

21.6

18.0

13.3

19.9

10.9

10.5

11.0

26.5

27.1

1998

20.6

17.1

12.7

18.9

10.5

10.5

10.5

26.1

25.6

1999

18.0

15.5

11.8

16.9

10.0

9.7

9.8

23.6

22.8

Notes:  Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.  All persons under 18 include related children (own children, including stepchildren and adopted children, plus all other children in the household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption), unrelated individuals under 18 (persons who are not living with any relatives), and householders or spouses under age 18.

Source:  U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 1999,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-210 and data published online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.

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