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How Have State Official Poverty Rates Changed Over 10 Years?

7 Feb 2023 6:37 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

Most states had lower average official poverty rates in 2019-2021 than a decade earlier, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates released in January, during National Poverty in America Awareness Month. [US Census Bureau]

new historical table using the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) shows that three-year average official poverty rates fell nationwide and in most states between 2009-2011 and 2019-2021.

Download Table here>

These changes reflect economic trends over the decade. 

The 2009-2011 data cover the period immediately following the Great Recession (December 2007 to June 2009), when poverty rates were among their highest this century.

The 2019-2021 data include three key time periods:

  • The end of economic expansion following the Great Recession.
  • The recession that accompanied the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (February to April 2020).
  • The government’s response to the pandemic, which provided support and reduced poverty rates

The official poverty measure uses a set of thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. Those thresholds are compared to family or individual before-tax money income. Capital gains and noncash benefits (like public housing, Medicaid or food stamps) are not included as income.

Overall, the national average official poverty rate fell from 14.8% in 2009-2011 to 11.2% in 2019-2021. The figures below demonstrate the differences between the states during both time periods. 



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