Census Bureau Releases Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Statistics

Census Bureau Releases Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Statistics

The United States Census Bureau recently issued a set of three reports—Income and Poverty in the United States: 2018, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2018, and The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2018. The reports found that median household income held steady at $63,179 between 2017 and 2018. Social Security, refundable tax credits, housing subsidies, and other federal aid kept nearly 47.8 million people out of poverty. The number of people in poverty decreased by 1.4 million, representing a 0.5 percentage point decrease to a rate of 11.8 percent. Despite the decline in poverty, the percentage of Americans without health coverage increased for the first time in a decade from 7.9 percent to 8.5 percent. And a total of 27.5 million people had no health insurance.

All three reports rely on data from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements and the American Community Survey. The first report, which focuses on trends in income, earnings, income inequality, and poverty, found that median income was $63,179 in 2018, which is not statistically different from the median income in 2017. The stagnation of median income follows three consecutive years of increases. Real median earnings of all workers, however, increased 3.4 percent to $40,247, and it rose at about the same rate for both men and women. Finally, the report found that the official poverty rate in 2018 was 11.8 percent, down a half of a percentage point from the previous year. There were approximately 38.1 million people in poverty in 2018, about 1.4 million fewer than in 2017. Non-Hispanic whites experienced most of this decrease, as 2018 poverty rates among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians were not statistically different from 2017. The poverty rates among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians were 20.8 percent, 17.6 percent, and 10.1 percent, respectively, compared to 8.1 percent for non-Hispanic whites.

The second report finds that 8.5 percent of Americans, or 27.5 million people, did not have health insurance at any point in 2018, up from an uninsured rate of 7.9 percent in 2017. This increase of nearly one million Americans without insurance coverage is the first year-to-year increase in the uninsured rate since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. A 0.7 percentage point drop in those with Medicaid coverage is a critical component of the increase in the uninsured rate.

The third and final report finds the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate, which extends the official poverty measure by accounting for government assistance to low-income households and expenses for critical goods and services, was 13.1 percent in 2018, not statistically different from the 2017 SPM rate. The report finds that Social Security and refundable tax credits were the two most important forms of anti-poverty federal assistance in 2018, keeping 27.3 million and 7.9 million individuals out of poverty, respectively. Housing subsidies also prevented 3.0 million individuals from falling into poverty, tying with SNAP and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as the third most effective forms of anti-poverty assistance.

You can find the reports here.