Levels of Poverty


Poverty has been going on for centuries. From the middle ages and the 16th century until today era. It has changed from those considered being in poverty to be disable beggers in the 16th century to working families with low income of today’s day and age. America looks at poverty in different ways. Some examples of poverty when it is discussed may include pictures of a blind man standing on a corner, a panhandler asking for money, or a homeless person living in a box. However, poverty hits all ages, races, genders, and family status. A family that has a working parent may be considered living in poverty depending on how much money they are making in a month, and the number of people in the household.

In 1963-1964 Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration, developed the poverty threshold. This threshold was first measured using an economic food plan. It was said that families spent over 1/3 of after tax money on food, then they were considered living in poverty. Farm or non-farm status also determined the thresholds. In 1963 Orshnasky presented the threshold as income inadequacy, but no changes was made until 1981. It was then when the family size was raised and whether the family was had a female or male head of household. This one change caused the poverty numbers to be lowered from 124 to 48.

*How many people are Poor:
In 2005 there were 15 million people in severe poverty which is more than 3 major cities combined. In 2006, there were 36.5 million people in poverty overall. This was also a 32 year high in the U.S. In 2009, there was a reported 43.6 million people that were poor in the U.S overall. That is 14.3 percent of the population. This number is the largest in 51 years since the poverty number was made. The gap as rich in poor has grown dramatically and is continuing to grow.

  • 2005-2006 Poverty Data.

1. Income
1/8 of Americans are making under 20,614 which is below the Federal Poverty Line
43% of Americans live in Severe Poverty
Individuals: $5,083
Family of Four: $9,903
2. Age
Children: 1/3
Over 65: 3.4 million Americans

  • Different groups of Poverty 2008-2009

Blacks: Over 25%
Hispanics: Over 25%
Whites: 9.4%
2. Age
Children under 18: 20.7%
Over 65: 8.9%
3. Families
Average Family: 11.1%
Female Headed Families: 29.9
Married Couples: 5.8%
4. Region
Living in the South: 15.7%
Northeast: 12.2%
Midwest: 13.3%
West: 14.8%

References: “Who Is Poor” www.irp.wisc.edu N.p. 26 October. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2011.

Billitteri, Thomas J. "Domestic Poverty" Plus Archive (September 7, 2007) 17:1 CQ Researcher Web. 2 Mar. 2011.