Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2001 . Economic Security Risk Factor 2. Deep Poverty Rates

03/01/2001

Figure ECON 2. Percentage of Total Population Below 50 and 100 Percent of Poverty Level: 1975-1999

Figure ECON 2. Percentage of Total Population Below 50 and 100 Percent of Poverty Level: 1975-1999

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 U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 1999,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-210 and unpublished tables available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.


  • Between 1993 and 1999, the percentage of the population in “deep poverty” (with incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty level), decreased by more than a quarter (from over 6 percent in 1993 to less than 5 percent in 1999). 

  • In general, the percentage of the population with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty threshold has followed a pattern that reflects the trend in the overall poverty rate, as shown in figure ECON 2.   The percentage of people below 50 percent of poverty rose in the late 1970s and early 1980s, then, after falling slightly, rose to a second peak in 1993.  The overall poverty rate followed a somewhat similar pattern, with more pronounced peaks and valleys.

  • Over the past two decades, there has been an overall increase in the proportion of the poverty population in deep poverty.  From a low of 28 percent of the poverty population in 1976, this population rose to nearly 41 percent by 1992.  In 1999, 39 percent of poor persons had incomes that fell below 50 percent of the poverty level.

  • Not only the poverty rate, but also the total number of poor people fell in 1999, as shown in Table ECON 2.  While the overall U.S. population increased by nearly 100 million people between 1959 and 1999, there were actually 7 million fewer people in poverty in 1999 than forty years prior.

Table ECON 2. Number and Percentage of Total Population Below 50, 75, 100, and 125 Percent of Poverty Level: Selected Years

    Below 50 percent Below 75 percent Below 100 percent Below 125 percent
Number In 000’s Total Population Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
1959 176,600 N/A N/A N/A N/A 39,500 22.4 54,900 31.1
1961 181,300 N/A N/A N/A N/A 39,600 21.9 54,300 30.0
1963 187,300 N/A N/A N/A N/A 36,400 19.5 50,800 27.1
1965 191,400 N/A N/A N/A N/A 33,200 17.3 46,200 24.1
1967 195,700 N/A N/A N/A N/A 27,800 14.2 39,200 20.0
1969 199,500 9,600 4.8 16,400 8.2 24,100 12.1 34,700 17.4
1971 204,600 N/A N/A N/A N/A 25,600 12.5 36,500 17.8
1973 208,500 N/A N/A N/A N/A 23,000 11.1 32,800 15.8
1975 210,900 7,700 3.7 15,400 7.3 25,900 12.3 37,100 17.6
1976 212,300 7,000 3.3 14,900 7.0 25,000 11.8 35,500 16.7
1977 213,900 7,500 3.5 15,000 7.0 24,700 11.6 35,700 16.7
1978 215,700 7,700 3.6 14,900 6.9 24,500 11.4 34,100 15.8
1979 222,900 8,600 3.8 16,300 7.3 26,100 11.7 36,600 16.4
1980 225,000 9,800 4.4 18,700 8.3 29,300 13.0 40,700 18.1
1981 227,200 11,200 4.9 20,700 9.1 31,800 14.0 43,800 19.3
1982 229,400 12,800 5.6 23,200 10.1 34,400 15.0 46,600 20.3
1983 231,700 13,600 5.9 23,600 10.2 35,300 15.2 47,000 20.3
1984 233,800 12,800 5.5 22,700 9.7 33,700 14.4 45,400 19.4
1985 236,600 12,400 5.2 22,200 9.4 33,100 13.6 44,200 18.7
1986 238,600 12,700 5.3 22,400 9.4 32,400 14.0 44,600 18.7
1987 241,000 12,500 5.2 21,700 9.0 32,200 13.4 43,100 17.9
1988 243,500 12,700 5.2 21,400 8.8 31,700 13.0 42,600 17.5
1989 246,000 12,000 4.9 20,700 8.4 31,500 12.8 42,600 17.3
1990 248,600 12,900 5.2 22,600 9.1 33,600 13.5 44,800 18.0
1991 251,200 14,100 5.6 24,400 9.7 35,700 14.2 47,500 18.9
1992 256,500 15,500 6.1 26,200 10.2 38,000 14.8 50,500 19.7
1993 259,300 16,000 6.2 27,200 10.5 39,300 15.1 51,900 20.0
1994 261,600 15,400 5.9 26,400 10.1 38,100 14.5 50,500 19.3
1995 263,700 13,900 5.3 24,500 9.3 36,400 13.8 48,800 18.5
1996 266,200 14,400 5.4 24,800 9.3 36,500 13.7 49,300 18.5
1997 268,500 14,600 5.4 24,200 9.0 35,600 13.3 47,800 17.8
1998 271,100 13,900 5.1 23,000 8.5 34,500 12.7 46,000 17.0
1999 273,500 12,700 4.6 21,600 7.9 32,300 11.8 44,300 16.2

Note: The number of persons below 50 percent and 75 percent of poverty for 1969 are estimated based on the distribution of persons below 50 percent and 75 percent for 1969 taken from the 1970 decennial census.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 1999,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-210, unpublished tables available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html, and 1970 Census of Population, Volume 1, Social and Economic Characteristics, Table 259.

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