Brookings Now

Brookings Data Now: Statistics of Poverty in America

Fred Dews

In this “poverty statistics edition” of Brookings Data Now: millions of Americans continue to face poverty; single-mother families in poverty; safety nets keep Americans out of poverty; minimum wage has failed to keep up with inflation; and many high-school graduates are under prepared for college.

For more data on and policy proposals to address poverty in America, visit The Hamilton Project’s recent publication of fourteen policy proposals.



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15%

Percentage of Americans who lived in poverty in 2012

Of this number, 16.1 million of the 46.5 million people living in poverty were children.

$2,254

Average credit amount of the Earned Income Tax Credit

The EITC alone keeps 6.5 million Americans, including 3.3 million children, out of poverty.

47%

Percentage of children living in single-mother families who live below the federal poverty level in 2012

In this same year, single mothers headed nearly 25% of U.S. families.

$9.59

1968’s minimum wage per hour in 2014 dollars

It was $8.58 per hour in 1979 in 2014 dollars. Today’s federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour, indicating a failure of the minimum wage to keep up with inflation.

 32%

Percentage of students who leave high school minimally prepared for college

Just 9 percent of students who enter college from the bottom income quartile actually gain a bachelor’s degree by age 25.


Elina Saxena contributed to this post.

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