Government programs kept tens of millions out of poverty in 2018

From 2017 to 2018, the official poverty rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, as household incomes rose modestly, albeit at a slower pace than the previous three years. This was the fourth year in a row that poverty declined, but the poverty rate remains half a percentage point higher than the low of 11.3% it reached in 2000.

A larger proportion of Americans are in poverty as measured by the SPM than as measured by the official measure. (Importantly, however, researchers who constructed a longer historical version of the SPM found that it shows greater long-term progress in reducing poverty than the official measure.) In 2018, the SPM increased by 0.1 percentage points to 13.1%. Under the SPM, 42.5 million Americans were in poverty last year, compared with 38.1 million Americans under the “official” poverty measure.

Economic Policy Institute