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August 04, 2020

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New Poverty Numbers Released

POSTED: August 28, 2008, 2:42 am

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The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report detailing poverty based on the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS) and the statistics continue to paint a grim reality for Black Americans. Though the nation’s poverty rate was unchanged in 2007 and household income increased among Americans generally, Black Americans remain at a statistical disadvantage economically compared to other groups.

The nation’s official poverty rate in 2005 was 12.5 percent, statistically the same as in 2007 and there were 37.2 million Americans in poverty, up slightly from the previous year. There was also some good news on the health care front as the number of people without health insurance declined in 2007 to 45.7 million from 47 million in 2006.

Median household income also jumped to $53,233 in 2007, a 1.3 percent increase over 2006. It marked the third year in a row there was an increase in median household income.



For twelve states and the District of Columbia, poverty rates declined from the 2006 American Community Survey to 2007. They include Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, New Hamphire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah. The only state where the poverty rate increased was Michigan and some of that may be attributed to the fallout in the auto industry and supply change vendors affected by the slump in vehicle sales. Among all states and the District of Columbia, the poverty rate swung from 7.1 percent for New Hampshire to 20.6 percent for Mississippi.

The relatively stable picture of poverty painted by the Census Bureau report belies the persistent struggles experienced by many Blacks in the country. Among all groups Black households had the lowest median income in 2007, $33,916, compared to non-Hispanic white households at $54,920. At $66,103 Asian households had the highest median income. Just under a quarter (24.5 percent) of Blacks were in poverty in 2007.

The poverty rate for Blacks in 2007 remained statistically unchanged as compared to 2006. Still, the poverty rate for Blacks was three times that of non-Hispanic whites, 8.2 percent of whom were in poverty in 2007. For Hispanics the poverty rate increased slightly to 21.5 percent from 20.6 percent in 2006.

Children and older Americans also experienced a slight increase in poverty. For people 65 years old and older the number of people living in poverty increased from 3.4 million in 2006 to 3.6 million last year. For children younger than 18, the number in poverty also increased, going from 12.8 million in 2006 to 13.3 million in 2007.

Poverty rates for families also remained relatively stable in 2007. However, disparities still persist between married-couple families and single, female headed families; a gulf that hits the Black community particularly hard and has repercussions for Black children. Married-couple families had a poverty rate of 4.9 percent, representing 2.8 million families, compared with 28.3 percent (4.1 million families) for female-householder, no-husband-present families and 13.6 percent for those families (696,00) with a male householder and no wife present.

Regionally, the South had the highest number of people living in poverty in 2007 at 15.5 million, up from 14.9 million in 2006. The poverty rate in the South remained statistically unchanged at 14.2 percent. The poverty rates in the Northeast, Midwest and West were all statistically unchanged from 2006.

Differences continue to persist in earnings based on gender. In 2007 the earnings of women who worked full time, year round was 78 percent of that of corresponding men. The real median earnings of men who were employed full time increased between 2006 and 2007, from $43,460 to $45,113. For women the increase was from $33,437 to $35,102. Still, gender disparity in pay continues to take its toll on women in the workplace and families in general.

On the health care front there was some good news in the Census Bureau report. The number of uninsured children declined from 8.7 million or 11.7 percent in 2006 to 11 percent (8.1 million) in 2007. For Blacks, the number of uninsured remained statistically unchanged at 7.4 million and the percentage uninsured declined to 19.5 percent in 2007 from 20.5 percent in 2006. Regionally, the Midwest and Northeast had lower uninsured rates (11.4 percent each) than the West (16.9 percent) and the South (18.4 percent)

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