NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

1.2 Million Americans Climbed Out of Poverty in 2000

September 26, 2001

New data from the Census Bureau reveal that poverty declined in the U.S. last year -- leaving poverty rates for blacks and female heads of households at their lowest levels since record-keeping began in 1979.

  • The number of people in poverty hit 31.1 million in 2000 -- down from 32.3 million in 1999.
  • The poverty rate fell for the fourth consecutive year -- from 11.8 percent in 1999 to 11.3 percent in 2000, the lowest since 1979 and about the same as the lowest rate ever recorded.
  • Median household income last year was $42,148 -- with the median for Hispanic households at $33,447 and for blacks at $30,439, both record numbers.
  • A family of four was living in poverty if its annual income was below $17,603 -- while the poverty line for a single person stood at $8,794.

However, analysts say, the average poor person fell further below the poverty line in 1999 and 2000. They attributed the decline to cuts in food stamps and cash-assistance programs and to declining participation in those programs.

Source: Katherine Q. Seelye, "Poverty Rates Fell in 2000, But Income Was Stagnant," New York Times, September 26, 2001; based on Jospeh Dalaker, "Consumer Income, Poverty in the United States: 2000," Current Population Reports, September 25, 2001, U.S. Bureau of the Census.

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