Okay, I’m ready. The recently released Census report on poverty in 2017 shows some positive developments. The official poverty rate declined from 12.7 to 12.3 percent, meaning that almost a million fewer Americans
were in poverty last year than the year before. Income from earnings increased, which helped minority groups reach their lowest poverty rates ever. But a word of caution: We shouldn’t put too much stock in the official poverty rate because it doesn’t count many of the tax and transfer programs that help low-income Americans. To see how well the US is doing in fighting material deprivation, we should pay more attention to consumption poverty, a metric that tells us what low-income Americans have and can afford. One way in which the official poverty rate is helpful, though, is that it tells us how many Americans say they are earning their way out of poverty through work. A small decline like we saw is definitely a good thing, but it’s not enough. Let’s hope we see more Americans working and earning their way out of poverty in the 2018 data. What do you think about the way we measure poverty in the United States? Let us know in your comments. Also let us know what other topics you’d like our scholars to cover in 60 seconds and be sure to LIKE and subscribe for more research and videos from AEI.