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Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003

Written by:
Report Number P60-226


This report presents data on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States based on information collected in the 2004 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Real median household income showed no change between 2002 and 2003.1 Both the number of people in poverty and the poverty rate increased between 2002 and 2003. The number and percentage of people without health insurance coverage, as well as the number of people with health insurance coverage, rose. These changes were not uniform across demographic groups. For example, Hispanics experienced declines in real median household income, Asians experienced increases in poverty, and non-Hispanic Whites had declines in health insurance coverage.2

This report has three main sections—income, poverty, and health insurance coverage. Each one presents estimates by characteristics such as race, Hispanic origin, nativity, and region. Other topics include earnings of year-round full-time workers, poverty among families, and health insurance coverage of children. The report concludes with a section discussing income, poverty, and health insurance coverage for states using 2- and 3-year averages.

The income and poverty estimates shown in this report are based solely on money income before taxes and do not include the value of noncash benefits such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, and employer-provided fringe benefits. Two forthcoming reports, one on alternative measures of income and the other on alternative measures of poverty, scheduled for release later this year, will discuss the effects of taxes and noncash benefits. They will be accompanied by a third report focusing on material measures of well-being.

The Annual Social and Economic Supplement provides reliable estimates of the net change from one year to the next in the overall distribution of economic characteristics of the population, but it does not show how those characteristics change for the same person, family, or household. Instead, longitudinal measures of income, poverty, and health insurance coverage that are based on following the same people over time are available from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).

Estimates derived from SIPP data answer such questions as:

  • What percentage of households move up or down the income distribution over time?
  • How many people remain in poverty over time?
  • How long do people without health insurance tend to remain uninsured?

The text box “Dynamics of Economic Well-Being” provides more information.

1 All income values are adjusted to reflect 2003 dollars. “Real” refers to comparisons of income after adjusting for inflation. The adjustment is based on percentage changes in prices between earlier years and 2003 and is computed by dividing the annual average Consumer Price Index for 2003 by the annual average for earlier years. The CPI-U values for 1947 to 2003 are available on the Internet at <www.census.gov/hhes/income/income03/cpiurs.html>. Inflation between 2002 and 2003 was 2.3 percent.

2 Federal surveys now ask people to report one or more races. Therefore, two ways of defining a group such as Asian are possible. The first includes those who reported Asian and no other race; the second includes everyone who reported Asian regardless of whether they also reported another race. Data using both concepts are presented in this report. In this report, “non-Hispanic Whites” refers to people who are not Hispanic who reported only White as their race.

Because Hispanics may be of any race, data in this report for Hispanics overlap with data for racial groups. Being Hispanic was reported by 11.8 percent of White householders who reported only one race; 2.7 percent of Black householders who reported only one race; 26.5 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native householders who reported only one race; and 10.0 percent of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander householders who reported only one race.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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