Poverty problem in the USA

Pavel Prikhodko, Ph.D. Machine Learning

The issue of poverty is a hot topic in almost every country of the world, and America is not an exception. According to Census data, the official poverty rate in the U.S. was 14.5 percent in 2013. The year before, more than 45 million people were living in poverty; this number was not significantly different in 2011. The number of children under 18 living in poverty fell to 19.9 percent in 2013 from 21.8 percent in 2012.

The poverty rate for people of Hispanic origin was 23.5 percent in 2013, which was just two percent lower than in 2012. The total number of Hispanics suffering from poverty in the U.S. decreased from 13.6 million in 2012 to 12.7 million in 2013, and the Hispanic child poverty rate was 30.4 percent. Non-Hispanic whites comprised 41.5 percent of people in poverty in the U.S. and more than 60 percent of the total population. The poverty rate for Non-Hispanic whites was about 10 percent in 2013. In 2013, 11 million African Americans were living in poverty (a 27.2 percent poverty rate), and the poverty rate of black children was 38.3 percent in 2013. The number of Asians in poverty was 1.8 million in 2013, and the poverty rate for this group was 10.5 percent.


In 2013, the poverty rate for the foreign-born people was 18 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2012. The total number of foreign-born individuals on the breadline was 7.4 million in 2013. About 47 percent of foreign-born people were naturalized citizens. Among them, 2.7 million people were below the poverty line, making up 12.7 percent of the total.

If we have a look at the gender statistics in the U.S., the total rate of poverty decreased both for males (13.1 percent) and females (15.8 percent) in 2013. The poverty rate for men aged 18 to 64 was 11.8 percent, while the rate for those aged 65 and older was 6.8 percent. The poverty rate for women was 15.3 percent for those aged 18 to 64 and 11.6 percent for women aged 65 and older. The percentage of children under 18 in poverty was nearly the same for both genders in 2013 — 19.8 for boys and 20 percent for girls.


The number of families below the poverty line decreased from 9.5 million in 2012 to 9.1 million in 2013. It’s important to note that the total number of married couple families living in poverty fell from 3.7 million in 2012 to 3.5 million in 2013. The year 2013 showed no significant change in the numbers of families with a female householder (4.6 million) or male householder (1 million) compared to the previous year. The poverty rate among children in single-parent families was 40.8 percent.

An accompanying problem in the U.S. is food insecurity. According to Feedingamerica.org, food insecurity exists in every American county. Eight states saw dramatically higher household rates of food insecurity than the U.S. national average (almost 15 percent from 2011 to 2013). The highest rates were found in Arkansas (21.2 percent) and Mississippi (21.1 percent). Texas was the third state with a high food insecurity rate: 18 percent.

In 2013, 17.5 million households were food insecure and 6.8 million households had very low food security in America.


* Map was taken from the excellent website http://www.feedingamerica.org, which addresses hunger and poverty issues in the U.S.

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About Pavel Prikhodko

Pavel Prikhodko, Ph.D. Machine Learning

Pavel has worked for many years as a researcher and developer on a wide range of applications (varying from mechanics and manufacturing to social data, finance and advertising), building predictive systems and trying to find stories that data can tell.

In his free time, he enjoys being with his family.

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