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Characteristics of the Low-Income Population: 1971 (Advance data from March 1972 Current Population Survey)

Report Number P60-82
Component ID: #ti1644910599

About 25.6 million persons were below the low-income level in 1971, according to the results of the Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted in March 1972 by the Bureau of the Census. This figure is not significantly different from the 1970 figure of 25.4 due to sampling variability. There was also no statistically significant change in the number of white and Negro low-income persons.

In 1971, the low-income or poverty threshold—the income level which separates "poor" from "nonpoor"—was $4,137 for a nonfarm family of four; it was $3,968 in 1970, and $2,973 in 1959.1 These thresholds are updated every year to reflect the changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI increased by about 4.3 percent between 1970 and 1971, but incomes rose sufficiently so that the number of persons in the low-income category remained unchanged.

Since 1959, the first year for which data on the low-income population are available, there has been a sizeable reduction in the number and percent of persons below the low-income level—from 22 percent of the population in 1959 to about 12 percent in 1971. In 1971, one-tenth of all white persons were in the low-income category as compared to about one-third for Negroes.

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1 Families and unrelated individuals are classified as being above or below the low-income level, using the poverty index adopted by a Federal Interagency Committee in 1969. This index centers around the Department of Agriculture's Economy Food Plan and reflects the different consumption requirements of families based on their size and composition, sex and age of the family head, and farm-nonfarm residence. For more detailed definitions of the terms and concepts used in this report, see Current Population Reports, Series P-23, No. 28 and Series P-60, No. 81.

Component ID: #ti702095047

A Note on Language

Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.

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