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NextGen Magazine


Poverty Rate Either Rose or Fell, Depending on How It's Counted

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Sep 14, 2021

Recent data from the Census Bureau indicates that the poverty rate either rose to 11.4 percent or dropped to 9.1 percent, depending on how one calculates it, the Washington Post reported

In absolute terms, the rate increased to 11.4 percent in 2020 from a record low of 10.5 percent in 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal. This marks the first time in five years that the rate went up, and it translates to roughly 3.3 million newly impoverished people, compared to 2019, bringing the total to about 37 million. 

But if one counts the voluminous government aid doled out over the course of last year, the rate decreased to 9.1 percent, which would actually make it the lowest rate on record, said the Post. Accounting for all these benefits, it is estimated that 11.7 million people were lifted out of poverty, and another 5.5 million were prevented from falling into poverty. The benefits can be seen in every age group, racial and ethnic group and educational level. Some of the largest declines in poverty were reported for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and adults without a high school degree and families headed by single mothers.

But the data also showed that the ranks of people without health insurance increased from 7.8 percent in 2019 to 8.3 percent last year, likely due to major job losses. However, the Post said this development is not as dire as originally anticipated, because the current levels of uninsured are not dramatically different from where the were in 2018.