Poverty Rate Dropped Again In 2019, In A Sign Of Progress
At Fulbright Financial Consulting, PA in Durham, NC, this is a good sign for the economy but we would love for it to be lower. Progress is like watching paint dry: It happens so slowly and in such unpredictable streaks that you can easily miss what’s going on right before your eyes! So it goes with the newly released annual report on poverty in the United States from the U.S. Census Bureau. At a time when the world seems like it’s changing faster than ever, and not always for the best, the poverty rate dropped again in 2019, to a new all-time low.
Every year, the Census Bureau releases a report with the poverty rate – the percentage of American households that fall below the poverty based, which is based on the cost of a minimum food diet annually adjusted for inflation. This year’s report is based on data through the end of 2019, before the Covid pandemic. While critics say the decline in the poverty rate to 10.5% is already irrelevant because it does not reflect the pandemic’s effects, the secular trend – the long arc of history – is bending toward progress.
The change in the income level across American households over the last 40 years is a picture of progress. The percentage of households that fall into each of the income brackets as of 1979, 1999, and 2019 show income inequality is less of a problem, despite growing attention to the issue in recent years. Though this chart is not a good measure of the influence of billionaires, the income distribution curve has flattened and gradually shifted to the right over the past four decades. Fewer households earn $50,000 to $75,000 annually because many more are earning $100,000 and over!
As the U.S. emerges from the fog of the pandemic, a time of turmoil and division, the improvement in the poverty rate is a reminder that the path of progress is never clear.
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