Poverty data offer an important way to evaluate the nation's economic well-being. This report illustrates how the official poverty rates vary by selected characteristics — age, race and Hispanic origin, nativity, family composition, work experience, and geography. These data show how many people were in poverty in 2002 and how the poverty population has changed. A description of how the Census Bureau measures poverty may be found on page 4. Because the poverty population in the United States is too diverse to be characterized along any one dimension, the report also includes several alternative ways of measuring poverty, and is accompanied by a separate report, Supplemental Measures of Material Well-Being: Expenditures, Consumption, and Poverty: 1998 and 2001 (P23-201).
The data presented here are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2003 Annual Social & Economic Supplement (ASEC), the source of official poverty estimates. The CPS ASEC is a sample survey of approximately 78,000 households nationwide. These data reflect conditions in calendar year 2002.
1 The poverty rate for people aged 65 and over was statistically indistinguishable from the rate for 18-to-64-year-olds. Because the poverty rates in this report are estimates, two groups that appear to have different poverty rates may not truly have different rates from one another.
2 The poverty rates for the various racial subgroups that include Asians (ranging from 10.1 to 10.3 percent) were not statistically distinguishable from one another.
3 Because Hispanics may be of any race, data in this report for Hispanics overlap slightly with data for the Black population and for the Asian population. Based on the 2003 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC), 3.5 percent of Blacks who reported only one race and 1.6 percent of Asians who reported only one race were of Hispanic origin. For the poverty population, Hispanics made up 4.0 percent of Blacks (single race) and 1.6 percent of Asians (single race). Despite the sample expansion, single-year data for the American Indian and Alaska Native population and the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population are not shown in this report because of their small sample sizes in the 2003 CPS ASEC. Data users should exercise caution when interpreting aggregate results for both the Hispanic population and the Asian population because they consist of many distinct groups that differ in socio-economic characteristics, culture, and recency of immigration. In addition, the CPS does not use separate population controls for weighting the Asian sample to national totals. For further information, see www.bls.census.gov/cps/ads/adsmain.htm.