Poverty: No one should experience poverty or economic insecurity. 

Insights & Analyses

  • People of color have experienced poverty at higher rates compared to white populations in the US from 1980 to 2020. 
  • In 2020, Native American and Black people had the highest share of people living below 100 percent of the poverty level. 
  • Across the listed poverty levels, the Native American female population had the highest share of those below the poverty level in the US, while the white male population had the lowest share.
  • Across all states, Mississippi had the highest share of residents living below 200 percent of the poverty level, while New Hampshire had the lowest at 41 percent and 19 percent respectively.

Drivers of Inequity

Poverty remains high in the United States because of various trends including wage stagnation among lower paying jobs, cutbacks in social protection programs, and deindustrialization. People of color, particularly Latinx and Black Americans, continue to suffer from poverty at much higher rates than White Americans. This disparity is caused by various historical factors such as racial segregation and policies that banned people of color from accessing education and higher paid professions. Ongoing factors, like decades of disinvestment in infrastructure and social programs, discriminatory hiring practices and disparities in generational wealth, also contribute to poverty.


Grow an equitable economy: Policies to lift people out of poverty

Strategy in Action

Seattle raises wages for thousands of workers. Seattle was the first major city in the nation to adopt a $15/hour minimum wage. The advocacy effort started in neighboring SeaTac, home to Seattle's airport. As airline companies began to pay workers as contractors, causing wages to decline dramatically, a local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) chapter led a successful ballot initiative campaign to increase the minimum wage for airport-related jobs to $15/hour. This policy shift built momentum to expand the minimum wage increase to the whole city. As of January 1, 2020, Seattle's minimum wage will be $16.39/hour for large employers (501 or more employees) and $15.75/hour for smaller employers who do not pay toward individual employee's medical benefits. Despite initial pushback from the restaurant industry, the number of jobs in restaurants and bars has continued to grow since the wage increase. Lower-wage workers have seen significantly more rapid hourly wage growth while remaining in the jobs longer, leading to lower labor turnover rates overall. Read more.

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