Census Bureau: Median incomes aren’t growing; number of uninsured decreasing

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The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that in 2014, there was no statistically significant change from 2013 in either real median household income or the official poverty rate. At the same time, the percentage of people without health insurance coverage declined.

Unless otherwise noted, the following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2015 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

The nation's official poverty rate in 2014 was 14.8 percent, which means there were 46.7 million people in poverty. Neither the poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from 2013 estimates. This marks the fourth consecutive year in which the number of people in poverty was not statistically different from the previous year's estimate.

Median household income in the United States in 2014 was $53,657, not statistically different in real terms from the 2013 median income. This is the third consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive annual declines.

The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire 2014 calendar year was 10.4 percent, down from 13.3 percent in 2013. The number of people without health insurance declined to 33.0 million from 41.8 million over the period.

These findings are contained in two reports: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014 and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2014. The Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement was conducted between February and April 2015 and collected information about income and health insurance coverage during the 2014 calendar year. The Current Population Survey, sponsored jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is conducted every month and is the primary source of labor force statistics for the U.S. population; it is used to calculate the monthly unemployment rate estimates. Supplements are added in most months; the Annual Social and Economic Supplement questionnaire is designed to give annual, calendar-year, national estimates of income, poverty and health insurance numbers and rates.

Another Census Bureau report, The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2014, was also released Wednesday. With support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it describes research showing a different way of measuring poverty in the United States. The supplemental poverty measure serves as an additional indicator of economic well-being and provides a deeper understanding of economic conditions. The Census Bureau has published poverty estimates using this supplemental measure annually since 2011. Today marks the first time the official poverty measure and the supplemental poverty measure have been released simultaneously.

The Current Population Survey-based income and poverty report includes comparisons with one year earlier and to 2007 (before the last recession); historical tables in the report contain statistics back to 1959. The health insurance report is based on both the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey and includes comparisons with one year earlier.


Race and Hispanic Origin 
(Race data refer to people reporting a single race only; Hispanics can be of any race)



Income Inequality




Race and Hispanic Origin 
(Race data refer to people reporting a single race only; Hispanics can be of any race)



Shared Households

Shared households are defined as households that include at least one "additional" adult: a person 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder, spouse or cohabiting partner of the householder. The information on shared households covers adults living in the household at the time of the survey.

Supplemental Poverty Measure

The supplemental poverty measure is an effort to take into account many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that were not included in the current official poverty measure. While the nation's official poverty rate, presented in the Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014 report, was 14.8 percent in 2014, the universe for the supplemental poverty measure is different because it includes children younger than 15 who are not related to anyone in the household, such as foster children. Therefore, the official poverty rate presented in the Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2014 report was 14.9 percent.

The supplemental poverty measure also released Wednesday shows:

While the official poverty measure includes only pre-tax money income, the supplemental measure adds the value of in-kind benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunches, housing assistance and refundable tax credits. Additionally, the supplemental poverty measure deducts necessary expenses for critical goods and services from income. Expenses that are deducted include taxes, child care and commuting expenses, out-of-pocket medical expenses and child support paid to another household. The supplemental poverty measure permits the examination of the effects of government transfers on poverty estimates. For example, not including refundable tax credits (the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable portion of the child tax credit) in resources, the poverty rate for all people would have been 18.4 percent rather than 15.3 percent.

The measure does not replace the official poverty measure and will not be used to determine eligibility for government programs.

Health Insurance Coverage

Race and Hispanic Origin
(Race data refer to people reporting a single race only; Hispanics can be of any race)