US Hunger & Poverty Facts

Jul 22, 2006

From: http://www.worldhungeryear.org/info_center/just_facts.asp

US Hunger & Poverty Facts

  • From 1967 to 2003, average household income (adjusted dollars) grew from $7.589 to 9,996 for those in the bottom 20%, and grew from $83,758 to $147,078 for those in the top 20%.1
  • In 2003, California had a poverty rate of 13.4%, compared to 9% in Virginia, 19.9% in Washington D.C., and 12.7% for the U.S. 1
  • For those living in poverty, the poverty gap per family member (defined as the total dollar amount short of the poverty line) grew from $1,873 to $3,018 (adjusted dollars) between 1975-2003. 1
  • From the years 1980-2000, average net income (adjusted dollars) for households with children grew by $876,300 for the top 1%, and grew by $2,000 for those in the bottom 20%. 1
  • While the number of persons at poverty level declined from 13.4% to 12.5% from 1987-2003, the number of persons on Medicaid grew from 8.4% to 12.4%1
  • Approximately 7.5 million workers (6% of the U.S. workforce) earn at or near the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.2
  • If the federal minimum wage had maintained its 1968 peak value, it would be $8.69 an hour today. 2
  • From 1956 to 1981, the minimum wage was approximately half of the average American workers wage; today it is about 30%. 2
  • In the 1960s and 70s, a full-time worker earning minimum wage could support a family of three at the poverty level. 2
  • Approximately 7.5 million workers (6% of the U.S. workforce) earn at or near the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. 4
  • From 1956 to 1981, the minimum wage was approximately half of the average American workers wage; today it is about 30%. 4
  • In the 1960s and 70s, a full-time worker earning minimum wage could support a family of three at the poverty level. 4
  • Of those individuals directly affected by the most recent federal increase in the minimum wage, 70% were over the age of 19, and 35% of the income gains went to the poorest one-fifth of working households.2
  • Currently, 13 states have laws mandating a state minimum wage that exceeds the federal level by at least one dollar and is near half the average wage of workers in that state. 2
  • Housing costs continue to squeeze the budgets of low-income families. The typical household in poverty paid 64% of its income for housing in 2003, up from 61% in 1997. 3
  • One of every 12 (8.3%) elderly Whites were poor in 1999, compared to 22.7% of elderly African-Americans and 20.4% of elderly Hispanics. 4
  • A worker earning minimum wage would have to work 97 hours a week to pay the rent of an average two-bedroom apartment. 5
  • Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2001, 26.4% of female-headed families were poor, while 13.1% of male-headed families and 4.9% of married couple’s households lived in poverty. In 2001, both black and Hispanic female-headed families had poverty rates exceeding 35%. 6
  • The U.S. Conference of Mayors reports that in 2004, requests for emergency food assistance increased an average of 13%. The study also found that 56% of those requesting emergency food assistance were employed. High housing costs, low-paying jobs, unemployment, and the economic downturn led the list of reasons contributing to the rise. 7

Source material:

  1. Just the Facts: Poverty in Los Angeles Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty, US Poverty, Income and Health Insurance Data, March 2003.
  2. Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Minimum Wage: Creating an Asset Foundation.
  3. Hunger, Crowding, and Other Hardships are Widespread among Families in Poverty, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, December 2004.
  4. “Poverty in the United States: 1999, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, pg.60-210.
  5. Institute for Children and Poverty, Homeless in America: A Children’s Story – Part One (New York, NY: 1999); Twombly, Out of Reach: The Growing Gap Between Housing Costs and Income of Poor People in the United States (Washington, DC: The National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2000).
  6. Hunger and Homelessness Survey 2004, 1. U.S. Census Bureau, Poverty in the United States: 2001, P-60, no. 219: Table 1.
  7. U.S. Conference of Mayors – Sodexho USA, December 2004.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. And please share this article on your favorite social bookmarking website.

Posted by | Categories: Facts and Figures |

No Responses so far | Have Your Say!

Comments are closed.

Children suffering from Poverty