· Upward mobility will surprise you - Included in the report is the following observation:
“Chronic poverty over the 2-year period from 2009 to 2010 was relatively uncommon, with 4.8 percent of the population living in poverty all 24 months.”
This is surprising; only one-third of those in poverty remain in poverty over a two year period. Most Americans would assume an individual or family in poverty spend years, if not their whole lifetime, in that status. That could be true for up to one-third of those in poverty but for most of the population in poverty they move out of that status within a two year period. Upward mobility is still very possible in America.
Marriage is still one of the best defenses against poverty. Only 6% of families headed by a married couple are in poverty. That compares to 32% for families headed by a single, female parent. Therefore, a single mom is five times more likely to live in poverty than her married counterparts. 19% of the families in America are headed by a single mom, but they make up over 50% of families in poverty.
· Non-citizen poverty rates are very high. For foreign born citizens the rate of poverty is 11%, lower than the overall population rate of 15%. But for foreign born, non-citizens, the rate of poverty is 27%, almost twice the rate of the general population. While non-citizens make up only 7% of the population of the U.S., they make up almost 13% of people in poverty.
· Under reporting of income - The Census Bureau knows that there is income not reported by some individuals and therefore the poverty statistics are higher than they otherwise would be. Here is this is described in the Report:
“Moreover, readers should be aware that for many different reasons there is a tendency in household surveys for respondents to underreport their income. Based on an analysis of independently derived income estimates, the Census Bureau determined that respondents report income earned from wages or salaries more accurately than other sources of income, and that the reported wage and salary income is nearly equal to independent estimates of aggregate income.”
It is not hard for most of us to imagine there is a lot of “under the table” income not reported to the IRS and also not to the Census Bureau. Therefore poverty statistics are overstated to some degree.
Here is more information on how poverty is defined and measured.