The percentage of individuals living below the indicated federal poverty threshold based on their family income, size, and composition. The federal poverty threshold in 2015 for a family of four with two children was about $24,000 per year (thus, 200% of the federal poverty threshold was about $48,000). Data for 1980 through 2000 are based on surveys in those years but reflect income from the year prior, while data for 2010 represents a 2006-2010 average and data for 2015 represents a 2011-2015 average. Universe includes all people not living in group quarters. No data is reported for demographic subgroups with insufficient sample sizes. For more information, see the data and methods document. | National Equity Atlas Data & Methods: Technical Documentation
Percent people below poverty by race/ethnicity:
Is growth being broadly shared?
Why it matters
High rates of poverty impact everyone, costing our economy billions of dollars annually and weakening the middle class and civic engagement. Child poverty alone costs an estimated $500 billion a year to the U.S. economy, stifling the potential of millions of families and threatening prosperity.
Grow an equitable economy: Policies to lift people out of poverty
- Adopt targeted local hiring policies and measures that remove barriers to employment and services
- Provide affordable high-quality preschool and childcare for low-income families
- Raise the floor on low-wage work by increasing the minimum wage or enacting living-wage laws, requiring paid sick days, ending wage theft, strengthening workers’ rights to organize, and ensuring fair scheduling
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and protect against predatory, high-cost financial service providers
- Prevent displacement, which has been shown to cause poverty, through tenant protections like just cause eviction ordinances
State and Federal Housing Vouchers Help Families in Poverty Secure Housing
Housing is the single largest expense for most households, and housing burden is highest among low-income families and families of color. Federal rental assistance, which includes public housing and housing vouchers, help roughly 5 million families in or near poverty afford a place to live. Due to limited federal funding, however, three in four eligible families do not receive housing assistance. One Urban Institute analysis found that expanding housing vouchers to just 70 percent of those eligible would have the largest impact on child poverty of the nine poverty alleviating policies they examined, reducing child poverty by nearly 21 percent. At least thirty states have their own housing subsidy programs that operate similarly to the federal one, including the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program.