U.S. Poverty Rate Drops, But Still Remains High

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the poverty rate
dropped from 14.8 percent in 2014 to 13.5 percent in 2015 (latest
figures available). That means 3.5 million fewer people are living in
poverty. Bread for the World is encouraged by this significant
improvement, but points out that 43.1 million Americans are still living
in poverty.

“While these new numbers are encouraging, far too many families are
still living in poverty,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread
for the World. “We need to elect leaders who will focus on ending
poverty, and ensure that safety net programs for those struggling are
fully funded.”

Poverty rates fell or remained unchanged for every demographic group.
For African-Americans, the poverty rate fell from 26.2 percent in 2014
to 24.1 percent in 2015. For Latinos, it fell from 23.6 percent to 21.4
percent, and for female-headed families, the rate fell from 33.1 percent
to 30.4 percent.

The official poverty rate does not account for most federal anti-poverty
programs, which continue to keep millions of people out of poverty.
Without the earned income tax credit and child tax credit, the official
poverty rate would have been 2.9 percentage points higher. SNAP
(formerly known as food stamps) kept 4.6 million people out of poverty
in 2015, including 2 million children, and the school lunch program
reduced poverty by 0.4 percent.

The best way to end poverty is to ensure people have access to jobs that
provide a decent wage. In fact, the reduction in poverty can be
attributed, in part, to a 5.2 percent increase in median household
income – the first annual increase in median household income since 2007.

“Congress must make ending hunger a priority,” said Beckmann. “Lawmakers
can start now by passing a fiscal year 2017 budget, working to create
good-paying jobs, and strengthening the safety net so that families who
hit a rough patch are not permanently left behind.”

Bread for the World (www.bread.org)
is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to
end hunger at home and abroad.


Bread for the World
Chris Ford, 202-688-1077