By the Numbers: Income and Poverty, 2020

By the Numbers: Income and Poverty, 2020

Jump to statistics on:

Earnings
Incomes
Poverty
Policy / SPM

This fact sheet provides key numbers from today’s new Census reports, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020 and The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2020. Each section has headline statistics from the reports for 2020, as well as comparisons with the previous year. This fact sheet also provides historical context for the 2020 recession by analyzing changes between the last business cycle peak in 2019 to 2007 (the final year of the economic expansion that preceded the Great Recession), and to 2000 (the prior economic peak). All dollar values are adjusted for inflation (2020 dollars). Because of a redesign in the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) income questions in 2013, we imputed the historical series using the ratio of the old and new method in 2013. All percentage changes from before 2013 are based on this imputed series. We do not adjust for the break in the series in 2017 due to differences in the legacy CPS ASEC processing system and the updated CPS ASEC processing system, but these differences are small and statistically insignificant in most cases.

Earnings

Median annual earnings for men working full time grew 5.6%, to $61,417, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, men’s earnings rose 3.0% between 2007 and 2019, and were 3.6% higher in 2019 than they were in 2000.

Median annual earnings for women working full time grew 6.5%, to $50,982, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, women’s earnings rose 9.0% between 2007 and 2019, and were 15.7% higher in 2019 than they were in 2000.

Median annual earnings for men working full time in 2020: $61,417

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: 5.6%
  • 2007–2019: 3.0%
  • 2000–2019: 3.6%

Median annual earnings for women working full time in 2020: $50,982

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: 6.5%
  • 2007–2019: 9.0%
  • 2000–2019: 15.7%

Incomes

Median household income fell 2.9%, to $67,521 in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, median household income rose 7.3% between 2007 and 2019, and was 6.5% higher in 2019 than it was in 2000.

Median non-elderly household income fell 2.6%, to $76,800, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, median non-elderly household income rose 8.1% between 2007 and 2019, and was 4.3% higher in 2019 than it was in 2000.

Median household income in 2020: $67,521

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: -2.9%
  • 2007–2019: 7.3%
  • 2000–2019: 6.5%

Median non-elderly household income in 2020: $76,800

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: -2.6%
  • 2007–2019: 8.1%
  • 2000–2019: 4.3%

Median household income for white, non-Hispanic households fell 2.7%, to $74,912, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, median household income rose 8.2% between 2007 and 2019, and was 8.2% higher in 2019 than it was in 2000.

Median household income for Black households fell 0.1%, to $46,600, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, median household income rose 6.3% between 2007 and 2019, and was 1.4% higher in 2019 than it was in 2000.

Median household income for Hispanic households fell 2.6%, to $55,321, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, median household income rose 21.1% between 2007 and 2019, and was 17.3% higher in 2019 than it was in 2000.

Median white, non-Hispanic household income in 2020: $74,912

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: -2.7%
  • 2007–2019: 8.2%
  • 2000–2019: 8.2%

Median Black household income in 2020: $46,600

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: -0.1%
  • 2007–2019: 6.3%
  • 2000–2019: 1.4%

Median Hispanic household income in 2020: $55,321

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: -2.6%
  • 2007–2019: 21.1%
  • 2000–2019: 17.3%

Poverty

The poverty rate rose 0.9 percentage points, to 11.4%, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, the poverty rate fell 2.0 percentage points between 2007 and 2019 and was 0.8 percentage points lower in 2019 than it was in 2000.

The child poverty rate rose 1.7 percentage points, to 16.1%, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, the child poverty rate was 3.6 percentage points lower in 2019 than it was in 2007 and was 1.8 percentage points lower in 2019 than it was in 2000.

Poverty rate in 2020: 11.4%

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: 0.9 percentage points
  • 2007–2019: -2.0 percentage points
  • 2000–2019: -0.8 percentage points

Poverty rate for children in 2020: 16.1%

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: 1.7 percentage points
  • 2007–2019: -3.6 percentage points
  • 2000–2019: -1.8 percentage points

The white, non-Hispanic poverty rate rose 0.9 percentage points, to 8.2%, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, the white, non-Hispanic poverty rate fell 0.9 percentage points between 2007 and 2019, and was 0.1 percentage points lower in 2019 than it was in 2000.

The Black poverty rate rose 0.6 percentage points, to 19.3%, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, the Black poverty rate fell 5.7 percentage points between 2007 and 2019, and was 3.8 percentage points lower in 2019 than it was in 2000.

The Hispanic poverty rate rose/fell 1.3 percentage points, to 17.0%, in 2020. Prior to the 2020 recession, the Hispanic poverty rate fell 5.8 percentage points between 2007 and 2019, and was 5.8 percentage points lower in 2019 than it was in 2000.

White, non-Hispanic poverty rate in 2020: 8.2%

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: 0.9 percentage points
  • 2007–2019: -0.9 percentage points
  • 2000–2019: -0.1 percentage points

Black poverty rate in 2020: 19.3%

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: 0.6 percentage point
  • 2007–2019: -5.7 percentage points
  • 2000–2019: -3.8 percentage points

Hispanic poverty rate in 2020: 17.0%

Change over time:

  • 2019–2020: 1.3 percentage points
  • 2007–2019: -5.8 percentage points
  • 2000–2019: -5.8 percentage points

Policy matters

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) is an alternative poverty measure published by the Census Bureau since 2010 that is more sophisticated than the official poverty measure referenced earlier in this fact sheet. The SPM takes into account an array of typical expenses—such as housing, food, clothing, health care, and more—as well as people’s income from both market sources and government programs. Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, we can evaluate how government assistance lifts people out of poverty.

SPM poverty rate in 2020: 9.1%

Public safety net and social insurance programs kept tens of millions of people out of poverty in 2020. The Census SPM data show that:

  • Social Security kept 26.5 million people out of poverty in 2020.
  • Economic Impact/stimulus kept 11.7 million people out of poverty in 2020.
  • Unemployment insurance kept 5.5 million people out of poverty in 2020.
  • Refundable tax credits (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit) kept 5.3 million people out of poverty in 2020.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) and school lunch assistance kept 3.2 million people out of poverty in 2020.

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