ACS Report

Nearly a Quarter of Veterans Live in Rural Areas

About five million (24.1%) U.S. veterans 18 years and older lived in areas designated as rural between 2011 and 2015, according to a new report (Veterans in Rural America: 2011–2015) from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The report found that when considering demographic and economic characteristics, rural veterans were similar to urban veterans except for their median household income and employment rates.

Working veterans in urban and rural areas

Rural veterans had median household incomes more similar to those of rural nonveterans than urban veterans ($53,554 compared with $52,161 and $59,674, respectively). The poverty rate for all rural veterans was 6.9%. This rate increased by level of rurality, to a high of 8.6% for veterans in completely rural counties. Level of rurality is based on the percentage of the county population living in rural areas.

Working-age rural veterans (18-64 years old) had an employment rate of 66.0%, lower than rural nonveterans and urban veterans (67.7% and 70.7%, respectively). The employment rate of rural veterans decreased as the level of rurality increased. Employed rural veterans, however, were more likely to work full time and year-round than rural nonveterans (81.6% compared with 71.5%).

These findings use the ACS 5-year statistics released on December 8. Other highlights include:

Geography

Just under half of all rural veterans lived in the South (45.9%), followed by 26.4% in the Midwest, 14.1% in the West, and 13.7% in the Northeast.

Age

The median age of rural veterans was about 15 years higher than rural nonveterans and two years higher than urban veterans, and their age increased as the level of rurality increased. Rural veterans living in counties that were completely rural were the oldest, with a median age of 66.

Health Insurance

During the 2011-2015 period, 5.2% of all rural veterans and 15.4% of all rural nonveterans were not covered by any type of health insurance plan. Of the rural veterans who had health insurance during this period, 30.3% had private insurance only, 24.6% had public insurance only, and the remainder (45.1%) had a combination of private and public insurance.

New Census Estimates Compare School-Age Child Poverty to Prerecession Levels

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released this week, the poverty rate for school-age children increased in 928 U.S. counties between 2007 and 2013. Fifteen counties showed a decline in poverty rate over the same period, and there was no statistical change in 2,199 counties.

Percent change in poverty rate 2007-2013 for children ages 5-17, by county

The findings also show there were large concentrations in the South and West of the 972 counties with poverty rates statistically above the national average of 20.8% for school-age children. For example, in New Mexico and Mississippi, more than 80% of counties had poverty rates statistically greater than the national rate. Across the nation, 15% of school districts had poverty rates greater than 30% for school-age children.

Conversely, 902 counties had poverty rates for school-age children that were statistically lower than the national rate. In five states, 80% of counties had rates lower than the national rate: Connecticut, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

Poverty rate of children ages 5-17, by county, 2013

The statistics are from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program, which provides the only up-to-date, single-year income and poverty statistics for all counties and school districts — roughly 3,140 counties and nearly 14,000 school districts nationally. Data from the American Community Survey are an important input to these estimates.

The official poverty statistics for the nation were released in the fall of 2014, showing a decline in the poverty rate for children under age 18 from the previous year for the first time since 2000.

About the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates

The Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program provides statistics on the total number of people in poverty, the number of children younger than age 5 in poverty (for states only), the number of children ages 5–17 in families in poverty, the number younger than age 18 in poverty, and median household income. At the school district level, estimates are available for the total population, the number of children ages 5–17 and the number of children ages 5–17 in families in poverty. The estimates combine the latest data from the American Community Survey with aggregate data from federal tax records, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, decennial censuses, and the Population Estimates Program.

This release also includes 2013 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE): An Overview, which presents income and poverty trends and explains the sources and approach.

Statistics from the SAIPE program are an input to the allocation formula for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which observes its 50th anniversary in April 2015. Title I distributes funding to school districts based on the number and percentage of low-income children. The U.S. Department of Education will use the 2013 estimates to allocate fiscal year 2015 funds for Title I and other Department of Education programs to states and school districts for use primarily in the 2015-2016 school year.

Census Report

Poverty Rate Declines, Number of Poor Unchanged

The nation’s poverty rate was 15.5% in 2013, down from 16.0% in 2012, according to the supplemental poverty measure released October 16 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2013 rate was higher than the official measure of 14.5%, but similarly declined from the corresponding rate in 2012.

Meanwhile, 48.7 million were below the poverty line in 2013 — not statistically different from the number in 2012. In 2013, 45.3 million were poor, using the official definition released in Sept. 2014 in Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013.

These findings are contained in the Census Bureau report The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2013, released with support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and describing research showing different ways of measuring poverty in the United States.

The supplemental poverty measure is an effort to take into account many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that were not included in the current official poverty measure, released Sept. 16.

While the official poverty measure includes only pretax money income, the supplemental measure adds the value of in-kind benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunches, housing assistance, and refundable tax credits. Additionally, the supplemental poverty measure deducts necessary expenses for critical goods and services from income. Expenses that are deducted include taxes, child care and commuting expenses, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and child support paid to another household.

Estimates for States

The differences between the official and supplemental poverty measures varied considerably by state. The supplemental rates were higher than the official statewide poverty rates in the District of Columbia and 13 states: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.

For another 26 states, supplemental rates were lower than the official statewide poverty rates. The states were Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Rates in the remaining 11 states were not statistically different using the two measures.

For more information about the supplemental poverty measure and how it differs from the official measure, see the U.S. Census Bureau’s blog post about this release.

New American Community Survey Data Released for 2013

The 2013 American Community Survey (ACS), released today in its one-year version, provides a multitude of statistics that measure the social, economic and housing conditions of U.S. states, counties, and communities. More than 40 topics are available with today’s release, such as educational attainment, housing, employment, commuting, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry and selected monthly homeowner costs.

The ACS gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results.

“The American Community Survey is our country’s only source of small area estimates for social and demographic characteristics,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “As such, it is indispensable to our economic competitiveness and used by businesses, local governments and anyone in need of trusted, timely, detailed data.”

Also released today are two reports providing analysis on income and poverty for states and large metropolitan areas. The ACS three- and five-year data for 2013 will be released in October and December of this year, respectively.

Following are some highlights of the new ACS 2013 one-year release and related reports.

Income

  • For 2013, median household incomes were lower than the U.S. median ($52,250) in 28 states and higher in 19 states and D.C. (Three states did not have a statistically significant difference from the U.S. as a whole.)
  • In 2013, the states with the highest median household incomes were Maryland ($72,483) and Alaska ($72,237). Mississippi had the lowest ($37,963).
  • Median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas was highest in the Washington, D.C. ($90,149), San Francisco ($79,624), and Boston ($72,907) metro areas.

Income Inequality

Household Income: 2013 examined the Gini index for states and large metro areas. The Gini index is a summary measure of income inequality, ranging from 0 (complete equality) to 1 (complete inequality). Among the findings:

  • Five states and D.C. had Gini indexes higher than the U.S. index of .481; 36 states had lower Gini indexes than the U.S.
  • The Gini index of 15 states increased from 2012 to 2013. Alaska was the only state to have a decrease. All other states saw no significant change.
  • The highest Gini index was in the District of Columbia (0.532). Alaska’s (0.408) was among the lowest.

Poverty

  • Two states — New Hampshire and Wyoming — saw a decline in both the number and percentage of people in poverty. New Hampshire’s poverty rate declined from 10% in 2012 to 8.7% in 2013. Wyoming’s rate declined from 12.6% to 10.9%.
  • Three states saw increases in both the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2012 and 2013. New Jersey’s poverty rate increased from 10.8% in 2012 to 11.4% in 2013; New Mexico increased from 20.8% to 21.9%, and Washington increased from 13.5% to 14.1%.
  • In 2013, Mississippi had the highest poverty rate among states (24%), followed by New Mexico (21.9%). Both states also had the highest percentage of the population below 125% of the poverty level: 30.3% in Mississippi and 28.3% in New Mexico. About one in 10 people in both states had incomes less than 50% of the poverty level.
  • Among large metropolitan areas, one of the lowest proportions of people with incomes less than 50% of the poverty level in 2013 was 4.2% in the Washington, D.C., metro area, while one of the highest proportions was 8.4% in the Phoenix metro area.

Health Insurance

  • Between 2012 and 2013, 13 states and Puerto Rico saw a statistically significant increase in the percentage of civilians covered by health insurance. Two states (Maine and New Jersey) saw a decrease.
  • Among people whose incomes were below 138% of the poverty threshold, 25.6% were uninsured in 2013. (Under the Affordable Care Act, states have the option of expanding Medicaid eligibility to those with incomes at or below 138% of the poverty threshold.) Among people whose incomes were at or above 200% of the poverty threshold, 9.2% were uninsured in 2013.
  • Among the top 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, the uninsured rates were highest in Miami (24.8%), Houston (22.8%), and Dallas (21.5%) and lowest in Boston (4.2%), Pittsburgh (7.5%), Minneapolis (8.1%), and Baltimore (8.7%).
  • Among the top 25 large metropolitan areas, Tampa, Detroit, and Riverside, Calif., had public coverage rates of 33% or higher.

Computer and Internet Access

The 2013 American Community Survey included new questions to produce statistics on computer and Internet access. Mandated by the 2008 Broadband Data Improvement Act, the data will help the Federal Communications Commission measure broadband access nationwide. The data will also help identify communities eligible for available grants to expand access.

Some findings: 83.8% of the nation’s households have a computer (either desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone). 74.4% have some form of Internet access at home. The Census Bureau is releasing a more detailed report on the new findings in early October.

Census Report

Gap Between Higher- and Lower-Wealth Households Widens

Median net worth increased between 2000 and 2011 for households in the top two quintiles of the net worth distribution — the wealthiest 40% of households — while declining for those in the lower three quintiles, according to statistics released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau. (Each quintile represents 20%, or one fifth, of all households.) The result: A widening wealth gap between those at the top and those in the middle and bottom of the net worth distribution.

where-is-the-wealth

According to the report, Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S.: 2000 to 2011, median household net worth decreased by $5,124 for households in the lowest-net-worth quintile and increased by $61,379 (10.8%) for those in the highest quintile. Median net worth of households in the highest quintile was 39.8 times higher than the second lowest quintile in 2000, and it rose to 86.8 times higher in 2011.

The report also details a widening of the wealth gap for households sharing the same demographic characteristics, such as age, race and Hispanic origin, and educational attainment of the householder. For example, the median net worth for non-Hispanic whites in the highest quintile was 21.8 times higher than for those in the second-lowest quintile in 2000; in 2011, this had increased to 31.5 times higher. For blacks, the ratio increased from 139.9 to 328.1, and for Hispanics, the increase was from 158.4 to 220.9.

Between 2000 and 2011, the wealth gap has also widened between groups with different demographic characteristics. For example, the ratio of median net worth of non-Hispanic whites to that of blacks rose from 10.6 to 17.5 between 2000 and 2011, and the ratio of non-Hispanic whites to Hispanics also increased from 8.1 to 14.4.

“However, when looking at the highest quintile for these groups, we see that blacks experienced higher relative increases in median net worth than non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics,” Census Bureau economist Marina Vornovitsky said. For blacks in the highest quintile, median net worth increased by 62.8%, to $229,041; for Hispanics in the highest quintile, it increased by 17.9% to $250,462, and for non-Hispanic whites in the highest quintile, it rose by 11.9% to $754,244.

The Distribution of Household Net Worth and Debt in the U.S. detailed table packages were released for 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the years for which data were collected.