Skip Header

We are hiring thousands of people for the 2020 Census. Click to learn more and apply.

Poverty Rate Drops for Third Consecutive Year in 2017

Income and Poverty

Poverty Rate Drops for Third Consecutive Year in 2017

Income and Poverty

Poverty Rate at 12.3 Percent, Down From 14.8 in 2014

Component ID: #ti1010160068

The national poverty rate continued to decline in 2017, the third successive decline in the poverty rate, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released today.

The poverty rate dropped consistently every year from 2015 to 2017 — a total of 2.5 percentage points — to a rate of 12.3 percent in 2017.

The data come from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). This three-year run of declines in poverty reflects the longest stretch of annual declines in the poverty rate since the four-year period of 1997 to 2000.

Component ID: #ti1144377431

Poverty Rates Have Fluctuated Greatly Since 1970

When the poverty measure was first established in 1959, 22.4 percent of individuals were living in poverty.

In the first 10 years of the measure, from 1959 to 1969, poverty seemed to move in one direction — downward — falling 10.3 percentage points in that 10-year period.

Component ID: #ti1019706108

However, sustained, long-term progress in lowering poverty rates has been more difficult in subsequent years.

Even after recent declines, the 2017 poverty rate of 12.3 percent is not statistically different from the rate in 1970. Since 1970, the annual poverty rate has increased 14 times and decreased 17 times.

Year-to-year increases in poverty in the 14 years when the rate went up tended to be higher, an average of 0.8 percentage points. In contrast, the average annual drop in the 17 years when poverty declined was 0.6 percentage points.

Component ID: #ti915036097

Ashley Edwards is Chief of the Poverty Statistics Branch at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Component ID: #ti1333409693

Income and Poverty Video

Component ID: #ti1818830985



America Counts tells the stories behind the numbers in a new inviting way. We feature stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency preparedness, and population. Contact our Public Information Office for media inquiries or interviews.


All of Our Content

The entire list of stories is available to you.

Use the hashtag #AmericaCounts to share this story on social media.


  Is this page helpful?
Thumbs Up Image Yes    Thumbs Down Image No
Comments or suggestions?
No, thanks
255 characters remaining
Thank you for your feedback.
Comments or suggestions?
Back to Header