Essays on People, Place & Purpose

Investing in What Works for America's Communities

Census Bureau Releases 2011 Poverty Data

by theandystratton

New figures released by the Census Bureau reveal that 46.2 million Americans (15 percent), including 16.1 million children, are living in poverty. In addition, income inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient index, increased to its highest level in 45 years.

The Census Bureau data release, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011” indicates that roughly one in six American were living in poverty. The data also showed that median income for middle class families had declined, while rising for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans. Alarmingly, 21.9 percent of children under the age of 18 – some 16 million individuals – are considered poor. The Census Bureau defines family of four with an annual income of less than $23,000 as in poverty.

While the percentage of Americans in poverty remained steady from 2010 to 2011, challenges remain:

  • Child Poverty: The number of children growing up in poverty is particularly alarming and threatens to cripple our long-term economic competitiveness.
  • The Shrinking Middle Class: While the percentage of people in poverty remains stagnant, the middle class is vanishing as incomes decline.
  • Women in Poverty: Women continue to experience poverty at a disproportionate rate.

Read the media release


  1. Enriqueta Reply

    I live comfortably at way under the ptvorey line. Think grad school lifestyle, but permanant. Lots of computers, books, cultural events, but no new car or new clothes, lots of ramen and rice, no restaurant meals, etc. My time is my own, and nobody gives me orders. One reality is that what for most of the world is a middle class lifestyle is illegal here. Build yourself a hut to live in, and they’ll tear it down and put you in jail or a mental ward or a shelter. Don’t even think of getting a couple of goats, or an unused acre for subsistance farming. I expect to be burglarized at least once a year, and at least once a year to have some kind of conflict with cops. “Police and thieves, in the street, scaring the nation…”My latest strategy for moving to a safer neighborhood fell through, and the next strategy is going to take a while to implement. Another factor that complicates measuring ptvorey is that americans tend to be more involved in a cash economy, where the american poor and the world poor are less cash-based, and more immersed in informal networks of barter and kinship. A guy with an apple tree, or who knows where one is, has a source of apples and pie and cider* and hard cider, but may have as few dollars as the next guy who doesn’t have an apple tree. (Real cider, not the stuff with sodium benzoate added.)Liberals too often assume that they have perfect information, or the government has perfect information. Austrians know that information is scarce and costly. The problem of ptvorey is complicated by ptvorey being hard to measure by “poverty lines.”Being under the ptvorey line is an indication someone might be poor, but is not determinative.Further complicating things is the open source post-scarcity economy. $50/mo fo my internet connection is a big part of my budget, but it gives me a world of millions of books, blogs, film clips, software, etc etc. Home is where my computer is, and it doesn’t bother me that I don’t have store-bought furniture or a lot of expensive toys that would attract more burglars.

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