What Do You Know About Poverty in Missouri?

6. The overall poverty rate in the United States is higher now than in the 1950s.

a. Incorrect

Over the years, the poverty rate has gone up and down, but there has been an overall downward trend. In the late 1950s, the overall poverty rate for individuals in the United States was 22 percent (or 39.5 million). In the 1960s, there was a dramatic decline to about 12.1 percent. Due to a slowing economy, the rate rose slightly in the early 1970s but soon began to decrease again. By the mid seventies the poverty rate stabilized around 11.5 percent until the late seventies. By 1983, the poverty rate was at 15.2 percent and through most of the 80s it was around 13 percent. In 1993, it reached a high of 15.1 percent but fell steadily through the remaining decade. In 2000, the poverty rate was around 11.3 percent (or 31 million people). In 2001, the poverty rate began to rise and has continued to rise through the economic downturn of the later 2000s. By 2010, the number of people living in poverty had risen to 46.2 million (15.1 percent of the population).

It is important to remember, however, that these figures reflect an average of all groups. Various groups, such as female-headed households, tend to have much higher rates of poverty.

Source: Institute for Research on Poverty, http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/irp/faqs/faq3.htm.