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2015 Drop in Poverty is Largest on Record Since 1999

September 13, 2016
Written by: Ashley Edwards, Chief, Poverty Statistics Branch

Estimates released today from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) show the official poverty rate in the United States declined to 13.5 percent in 2015, a 1.2 percentage point drop from 2014. The last time poverty rates declined this much from year to year was from 1998 to 1999 – making this the largest decline in poverty rates over the past 16 years.

Since 1959, the first year for which the U.S. Census Bureau released poverty estimates, there has been only one year with a larger decline in poverty rates, 1966, when poverty declined by 2.6 percentage points following the implementation of a revised methodology for processing income data.

Between 2014 and 2015, poverty rates declined for many different demographic groups. Poverty rates fell for both males and females. In 2015, 12.2 percent of males were in poverty while 14.8 percent of females were in poverty.

Poverty rates declined for all three major age groups between 2014 and 2015. Poverty decreased to 12.4 percent for people aged 18 to 64, to 8.8 percent for people aged 65 and older, and declined to 19.7 percent for children under 18.

Poverty rates also declined for most racial and ethnic groups in the population. In 2015, the poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites declined to 9.1 percent. Poverty rates for Hispanics decreased to 21.4 percent in 2015 while the poverty rate for blacks fell to 24.1 percent. Asians did not experience a statistically significant change in their poverty rates between 2014 and 2015.

In 2015, poverty rates decreased in three of the four regions: the South, West and the Midwest. The Northeast did not experience a statistically significant change in the poverty rate between 2014 and 2015.

You can find out more about this decline in poverty by visiting <www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/poverty.html> to explore income and poverty data across additional demographic groups for 2015 as well as previous years.

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