Free Interactive Report

Poverty in the US

By 2030, UN SDG 1, No Poverty, aims to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce the proportion of people living below a country’s national poverty line by at least half. This includes increasing access to decent wages, health insurance, retirement programs, and other social services, as well as basic services like drinking water and electricity. It also requires addressing the negative economic impacts of natural disasters and other emergencies to prevent more people from falling into poverty.

Poverty in the US in Context

Globally, extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.90 per day. More than 10% of the world’s population (700 million people), still live in extreme poverty today and 55% (4 billion people) do not benefit from any form of social protection. Additionally, 7% of employed workers and their families live in extreme poverty.

In the US, the poverty line for a single-person household is approximately $35 per day, or $12,760 a year. For a family of four, the line is $26,200. As of 2019, over 39 million people fall below this line, and over 1% (3.9 million people) qualify under the global extreme poverty threshold.

Extreme Poverty in the United States

Among the 39+ million people living below the official poverty line in the US, 45% live in “deep” poverty, meaning they live on less than half of the official poverty line. Nearly 11 million children (1 in 7 kids), make up nearly 1/3 of the people living in poverty in this country.

Poverty in the U.S. can be linked with a range of other issues. Poor people frequently face challenges with affording housing, food, childcare, health care, and education.

Employment

The availability and stability of jobs, the wages benefits provided by those jobs, and access to unemployment support systems are important factors influencing a person’s ability to reach and stay above the poverty threshold. Jobs with inconsistent schedules, low wages, and little to no benefits are disproportionately held by women and people of color—and women of color in particular. It’s estimated that more than 15 million low-wage workers have children, and 1 in 10 are single parents. The lack of affordable child care exacerbates these challenges for many people, and has become one of the biggest expenses for families today. Learn more about income inequality, minimum wage, and poverty in our Decent Work and Economic Growth in the US interactive report.

Food Insecurity

Experiencing poverty can make affording food and particularly fresh food difficult. This only increases with the number of people in a household. In the U.S. 11% of households are considered food insecure.

Around 20 million adults reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days. Of these people, 82% cited financial hardship as the main reason. Our Hunger and Malnutrition in the US interactive report takes a closer look at food insecurity in the US.

Homelessness

There are currently over 550,000 people experiencing homelessness in the US. Over 1/3 of them (211,000) do not have access to a shelter.

Nearly 30% of adults in the US (63 million people) are facing challenges with affording their normal expenses. Over 17.6 million households experience a severe housing cost burden, which means they spend more than 50% of their income on housing. Difficulty paying bills extends beyond rent and mortgage payments, many people also struggle to afford their energy and water bills.

COVID-19 and Poverty in the US

In 2020 the Coronavirus pandemic compounded existing challenges people living in poverty face and threatened to push many more below the national poverty line.

Between February 2020 and May 2020, an estimated 14% of working Americans lost their jobs because of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The unemployment rate jumped from 3.5% in February to over 19% in April.

1/3 of adults reported using their COVID Relief stimulus payments and/or enhanced unemployment benefits to cover their routine household expenses.

Explore More Using this Poverty Interactive Report

This interactive report is continuously updated and it is free thanks to X4Impact Founding Partners. The report highlights some selected poverty-related indicators.

You can view poverty rate statistics nationally, or by state. It includes statistics related to poverty thresholds, homelessness, and the more than 60,000 nonprofits organizations that work on addressing poverty-related issues in the US.

Poverty and Homelessness in the US
Darker color means more people living in poverty in a state. Click on any state to see details on this and other indicators.
39M
People live in
Poverty
562K
People
experiencing
homelessness
7%
Percent of
homeless
individuals that are
young adults 18-24
8%
Percent of
homeless
individuals that
are veterans
Population Living in Poverty
Social Funding for UN SDG-1
(forms 990 filed with the IRS)
64,529
Organizations
$212B
Annual Income
$3M
Avg. Income
Housing Orgs & Shelters
16,923
Organizations
$32B
Annual Income
$2M
Avg. Income
Human & Other Service Orgs
47,606
Organizations
$180B
Annual Income
$4M
Avg. Income
Revenue sources for these organizations
Top Nonprofit Organizations
Click on any organization name to see details including NTEE, EIN, and address
No data available

The Negative Effects of Poverty

Poverty has far reaching consequences for a person’s quality of life. It’s estimated that 250,000 people die of poverty and inequality every year. 32% of low-income adults surveyed by the US Census reported feeling depressed recently. Among households with incomes below $35,000,

  • 47% report being behind on housing payments
  • 25% struggle with affording food
  • 60% of households face at least two stressors simultaneously, such as food and housing insecurity, loss of income, and mental health (as a comparison, less than 20% of households making more than $150,000 reported this experience)

The Economic Impact

Public assistance programs spend $153 billion a year as a direct result of low wages, and unstable housing among families with children is expected to cost the U.S. $111 billion in avoidable health and special education costs over the next ten years.

If wages had increased at the same rate as the broader economy, more than 4 million fewer children would be in poverty. Raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour would put an estimated $328 billion into the hands of families. A $1 per hour increase in wage among workers in the bottom 60% of earners, results in a $5.2 billion decrease of spending by government assistance programs.

The United Nations Impact Indicators related to UN SDG 1 No Poverty

The United Nations has defined 7 Targets and 14 Indicators to track progress towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Consumption and Production by 2030. The indicators for success outlined by the U.N. include:

  • The proportion of the population living below the international poverty line and the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line – by sex, age, employment status, and geographical location (urban/rural)
  • The proportion of the population that is covered by social protection floors/systems such as pensions, social security, and health insurance benefits.
  • The proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health, and social protection)
  • The sum of total grants and non-debt-creating inflows directly allocated to poverty reduction programs as a proportion of GDP

Interactive charts sources:

  • Homelessness: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness – 2020
  • Poverty: X4Impact analysis of U.S. Census Bureau
  • Nonprofit-related data: X4Impact analysis of over 600,000 forms 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service -IRS 2018-2020

Other Sources:

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