Chart of the Day: Record Low Poverty Rate

Chart of the Day: Record Low Poverty Rate

© Carlos Barria / Reuters

The extensive array of government assistance programs — including Social Security, unemployment insurance, veterans’ benefits, nutritional aid, rental assistance and the Earned Income Tax Credit — have a powerful effect on reducing poverty levels,  the effect is growing, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “In 1967, economic security programs lifted above the poverty line just 4 percent of those who would otherwise be poor,” the report says. “By 2017, that figure had jumped to 43 percent.”

Using a version of the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure — a more comprehensive assessment that takes a wide variety of factors into account, including housing subsidies, nutrition programs and location — CBPP found that the poverty rate fell to a record low in 2018:

“Before taking government benefits and tax policies into account, poverty has improved only modestly over the past five decades, falling from 27.0 percent to 25.4 percent between 1967 and 2017. But after accounting for these benefits and taxes, the poverty rate fell from 26.0 percent in 1967 to 14.4 percent in 2017. The latest Census data that use new processing methods show that poverty further declined from 2017 to 2018.”