Poverty: 2009 and 2010

October 2011
Report Number: ACSBR/10-01
Alemayehu Bishaw


Poverty estimates represent an important indicator of economic well being. This report, using income and household relationship data from the 1-year 2009 and 2010 American Community Surveys (ACS), compares poverty rates for the nation, states, and large metropolitan statistical areas. The report also summarizes the distributions of income-to-poverty ratios for states and the District of Columbia.


• Nationally, the poverty rate increased from 14.3 percent in the 2009 ACS to 15.3 percent in the 2010 ACS. The number of people in poverty increased from 42.9 million to 46.2 million during the same time period.

• Thirty-two states experienced an increase in the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2009 and 2010. For 20 states, this was the second consecutive annual increase.

• No state had a statistically significant decline in either the number of people in poverty or the poverty rate between 2009 and 2010.

• The percent of people with income below 125 percent of their poverty threshold increased from 18.9 percent in 2009 to 20.1 percent in 2010. During the same time period, the percentage of people with income below 50 percent of their poverty threshold increased from 6.3 percent to 6.8 percent.

• The poverty rate among large metropolitan areas varies from a low of 8.4 percent to 33.4 percent in the 2010 ACS.

The estimates contained in this report are based on the 2009 and 2010 ACS. The ACS is conducted every month with income data collected for the 12 months preceding the interview. Since the survey is continuous, adjacent ACS years have income reference months in common. Therefore comparing the 2009 ACS with the 2010 ACS is not an exact comparison of the economic conditions in 2009 with those in 2010, and comparisons should be interpreted with care. For more information on the ACS sample design and other topics visit <www.census.gov/acs/www>.

October 2010
September 2011