With the U.S. recovering from the shackles of the economic downturn, the latest Census Bureau report reveals that the poverty levels in the country have dropped. However, despite the decline in poverty levels, millions of people are still below the poverty line.
The Census Bureau data was released on Tuesday, Sept. 16, and it shows that even though the poverty rate declined from 2012 - a first since 2006 - the average home was not growing richer.
The poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, compared to 15 percent in 2012. Nearly 45.3 million are living below or are at the poverty line, which works out to a threshold of $23,834 for a family with four members. By comparison, 46.5 million people were below or at the poverty line in 2012.
So what has contributed to the decrease in poverty rate? Better economic growth and increased job opportunities are integral to the drop in poverty rate. The percentage of unemployment dropped from 9.3 percent (in 2009) to 7.4 percent in 2013.
"We're certainly seeing an increase in year-round, full-time employment," said Chuck Nelson, assistant division chief at the Census Bureau. "It seemed to accelerate a little bit in 2013, which is why we've seen this drop in poverty."
Notably, there was also a drop in child poverty for children under 18 from 21.8 percent (in 2012) to 19.9 percent in 2013. There was no notable change in the poverty rates for individuals aged between 18 to 64 years from 2012, which was 13.6 percent. The rate for individuals over 65 years did not show a drastic change either and was 9.5 percent.
The median household earnings increased to $51,939 in 2013 from $51,759 in 2012. This figure, however, is 8 percent less than the median income of $56,436 for 2007, which was a year before recession hit the U.S.
The report also shared the median earnings of both full-time working women and men for 2013, which were $39,157 and $50,033, respectively. This median was not markedly different from 2012. The gender gap too seems to be narrowing down as the women to men earnings ratio stood at 0.78.
The Census Bureau report also divulged that nearly 86.6 percent individuals had part or complete health insurance in 2013.