Facts and Figures

Overview of Poverty in the United States: 2011 Numbers

According to the Census figures, an estimated 46.2 million Americans were living in poverty in 2011--a number that has remained statistically unchanged since 2010. In 2011, the official poverty rate was 15 percent-that means that nearly 1 in 6 Americans lived below the poverty line of $23, 018 for a family of four. This latest report is a wake-up call that the crisis of poverty in America is ongoing.

It is clear that our policies and programs addressing poverty have not kept pace with the growing needs of millions of Americans. It is time we make the commitment to confront poverty head-on, create pathways out of poverty and provide opportunities for all.

Interactive Map: 2011 Poverty Data by Congressional District

To learn more about poverty rates in your Congressional district, check out this new interactive map at Half in Ten website HERE

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2011

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that in 2011, median household income declined, the poverty rate was not statistically different from the previous year and the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased.

  • Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent
  • Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (from 9.4 percent to 9.9 percent), for Blacks (from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent), and for Hispanics (from 25.3 percent to 26.6 percent). For Asians, the 2010 poverty rate (12.1 percent) was not statistically different from the 2009 poverty rate.
  • Real median household income in the United States in 2011 was $50,054, a 1.5 percent decline from the 2010 median and the second consecutive annual drop.
  • For the first time since 1993, the Gini Index, which measures income inequality rose at a statisically signficant rate by 1.5 percent.

These findings are contained in the report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011.

How Much Do You Know About Poverty?

Test your expertise with Half In Ten's interactive quiz by clicking here.

Food Hardship in America 2010: Households with and without Children

In this report the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) looks at rates of food hardship (rates of households answering “yes” over the course of a year to the question whether there were times over the past year “when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed”) for households without children and households with children. We look at those rates by state, by Metropolitan Statistical Area, and by Congressional District.


Among the findings of deep and widespread food hardship are the following:

  • In 195 Congressional Districts, at least 1 in 4 households with children answered “yes” to the question. 
  • In 312 Congressional Districts, at least 1 in 5 households with children answered “yes" to this question."
  • In 40 of America’s 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), more than 1 in 4 households with children answered “yes.”
  • In 21 states and the District of Columbia the rate for households with children answering “yes”exceeded 25 percent

What’s at stake: Safety net programs help struggling Americans in districts nationwide

In the midst of the heated debates on deficit reduction, budget cuts and job creation measures, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s at stake for low-income families and children. Programs like SNAP, Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are working to provide economic security to millions of Americans every year.


Here are some highlights:

•The Head Start program continues to positively effect the lives for children living in poverty. In the 50 congressional districts, where poverty for children under 5 was greatest in 2010—averaging 42.8 percent—nearly 4,000 children in each district were enrolled in Head Start, representing about 48 percent of the estimated eligible population.

•Public health insurance programs keep families healthy. In over a quarter of congressional districts, Medicaid provides health coverage to more than one in five residents.

Social Security helps keep families out of poverty. In 75 percent of congressional districts, at least one in four households receives all or part of their income from Social Security.